Why is it necessary for the buddies in buddy cop comedies to embroil themselves in diabolical schemes that would otherwise trounce even the most seasoned police officer, and yet walk away as heroes? Take Justin and Ryan of Let’s Be Cops. They’re about as logical and intellectually nimble as a calculator without batteries. Justin is a video game designer, and he might be very good at it, but watch the way he pitches his idea to potential developers. He is linguistically constipated. His friend Ryan, a one time football star, mistakes a masquerade party for a costume party and goes dressed as a cop. These are not two men capable of uncovering and busting drug deals and illegal weapon launders. They’d be more comfortable at home, on the couch, beers in hand, watching a movie like Let’s Be Cops.
The premise of Let’s Be Cops is that Justin (Damon Wayans Jr) and Ryan (Jake Johnson) pretend to be police officers on a whim and are later consumed by the power of the badge. Girls flock to them in herds. They get a bunch of crooks to do the hip thrust on the sidewalk. They enter a nightclub for free and are later mistaken for strippers. Uh huh. Best of all, Justin ropes in the lithesome waitress from the local café and begins a romance. It’s unfortunate that he’s unaware of conventional Hollywood tropes, specifically the one that requires all impostors to question their conscience and come clean with the girl, who will inevitably be disgusted that they lied the whole time, and leave. I call it the I Can’t Believe I Trusted You trope. The girl, Josie (Nina Dobrev), unfortunately doesn’t say those words when she finds out the truth, which I think is a monumental oversight by the writers.
So, okay. We’ve got two losers posing as cops. Doesn’t either of them realise that impersonating a cop is a felony that could include jail time? Tough luck. Ryan is so enraptured by the idea of being a (fake) cop that being on the beat is not good enough. Before long, he’s bought an old cop car off eBay and decked it out with red and blue lights and an LAPD badge (really?). He also sews sergeant chevrons to his sleeves and learns the police code of conduct via YouTube videos. He’s a big boy now.
Justin, on the other hand, maintains an air of trepidation about him. This doesn’t feel right. We shouldn’t be imitating cops, man. But then Ryan calls him a washout and he’s back in business. See, for Ryan, this charade is not about fun (though it is), it’s about making himself feel useful. He could have had a promising football career, but now he’s a nobody. That’s right. The police force always makes nobodies feel like somebodies. Should I give away spoilers and tell you where Justin and Ryan end up? Maybe I shouldn’t. Maybe you already know, because you’re familiar with Hollywood tropes. All I can say is that after impersonating a cop, there’s no way Ryan can end the movie the way he does.
And then there’s the diabolical scheme thrown in for good measure. Our heroes need to sweat a little bit. There’s a sinister mob boss with spider tattoos all over his body (James D’Arcy) and an accomplice who may or may not be a double agent. They’re really none of Justin’s and Ryan’s business, but they tumble onto their laps anyway. Let’s Be Cops is an unintelligent shambles, saved weakly by the chemistry shared between Johnson and Wayans Jr. I always rate comedies against my Laugh-O-Meter. The more I laugh, the better I rate it. Let’s Be Cops gets a below average score. On a completely different meter, Josie the waitress gets an A. She should tumble onto my lap.
Best Moment | “I will slap that little afro off your head”.
Worst Moment | The naked fat guy. What in the world?