Sloppy police work incoming
A failed football prospect and video game developer pretend to be cops. That’s the joke.
All 90-minutes of it.
Let’s Be Cops is a situational comedy in that it blindly moves from situation to situation. Scenes are pieced together by the thinnest of context, pushing the boundaries of logic and contrivances, even for an implausible comedy. Often, it runs itself ragged.
Then, Luke Greenfield & Nicholas Thomas’ script veers toward cliché. Predictable, humdrum, and almost dull. Characters tease their eventual arcs minutes in, while Let’s Be Cops clings to buddy flick rhetoric. Ryan (Jake Johnson) and Justin (Damon Wayans Jr.) are inevitably due for a break-up and a tense instance which will pull them back together in friendship. And that is exactly what happens.
Ignoring the tiresome narrative and pitiful structure, Let’s Be Cops will need to survive on laughs. It has a few. When Let’s Be Cops isn’t caught in ridiculous exaggeration, it thrives on chaos. Domestic violence calls, hardware store break-ins; they’re genuinely priceless. This duo is begging for a weekly skit on a sketch comedy show.
Some of the film works as a send-up on police procedural dramas. The ebb and flow is occasionally there, and Let’s Be Cops is hardly shy in portraying an overreach of police power, using it as almost embarrassing comedy – satire won’t work without some truth.
Ryan and Justin are a predictable pair, Justin the grounding to Ryan’s ecstatic idiocy. For as flimsy characters as they are (Let’s Be Cops has the barest of interest in development), these two 30-somethings fit into their molds while battling a gum munching James D’acry as super cool villain Mossi. If anything, their indistinguishable personalities – from almost any modern buddy comedy anyway – allows the movie to move a touch faster than normal. Minutes in, they’re cops.
After all, why waste the time? Let’s Be Cops is a chintzy little studio comedy with nothing to lose. May as well reach the expected action faster rather than lackadaisically wandering through story while an impatient audience nods off. All of its yelling, partying, and drug humor is enough to keep it lively if too empty even for such an aimless concept. [xrr rating=3/5 label=Movie]
Let’s Be Cops is consistently noisy enough to pass for film. Shot on Sony’s CineAlta series, nearly every shot carries the slimmest layer of digital buzz. With few exceptions though, this disc is rarely hampered by the issue.
Cinematography work is quite plain, mostly shot in supremely sharp close-ups and featuring extensive fidelity. Facial definition is top tier. Also a knock-out are shots of the L.A. skyline, rich with lights and landmark buildings visible. Oddly, those nighttime cityscapes are amongst the cleanest – noise is temporarily removed.
Maybe black levels are the cause. There never comes a moment where Let’s Be Cops lessens its grip on depth or contrast. Shadows are fattened up without a detail loss and general lighting schemes keep themselves consistent.
Post-production warms things up. Flesh tones steer toward orange without losing their natural look, at least not entirely. Other primaries are bright to keep with the style, but are rarely dazzling. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Video]
Activity on the included DTS-HD track is limited to heavy music for most of Let’s Be Cops. Generally, it’s clubbing and partying for the duo, leading to pleasing bass.
By the finale, gunshots begin their march into additional channels, giving the disc a notable spread which was missing for most of the runtime. Stereos and surrounds both engage, creating a send-off of note. Otherwise, dialog. Lots of dialog. Clean, precise, and well balanced dialog, but still. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Audio]
Two commentaries begin an otherwise small slate of bonuses. Writer/Director Luke Thomas gets one, with co-writer Nicholas Thomas on the second. Why they didn’t record a single track together isn’t clear. This is mere overkill. Some deleted scenes (11-minutes worth) and a still gallery follow-up. A short camera test has a few moments worth laughing at.
Brothers in Blue is the obligatory and generalized making-of focusing on the two stars. Real Funny isn’t all that funny as it tries to legitimize the action. [xrr rating=2/5 label=Extras]
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Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.