Timing is everything for ‘Let’s Be Cops’
In comedy, timing is everything. It’s not that the producers of “Let’s Be Cops” could have foreseen the extremely unfunny events involving police officers in Missouri at the moment, but they could have learned timing from their leads, Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans Jr.
Let’s be logical. Just like a Rehoboth Beach clothing store trying to clear out its swimwear rack, August is the month studios display the items they hope to just get out of inventory.
Think about the R-rated comedies belched out late in the last few summers - “We’re the Millers” (2013), “The Campaign” (2012), “The Change-Up” (2011), “The Switch” (2010). Each held promise of something so much more amusing than it delivered.
Let’s be honest. I don’t think anyone had high hopes that “Cops” would be a blockbuster, but the trailer contained just enough funny moments to end a rather slight summer box office. But the only true laughs found throughout the film are courtesy of chemistry. Leads Johnson and Wayans display a such a natural comfort with one another, it’s difficult to not watch their scenes together with a wide grin. They play buddies whose unfulfilled adulthood takes a turn for the better when they find themselves in possession of two LAPD uniforms and decide to don them with increasing frequency when they discover the perks.
Let’s be derivative. The plot bears a striking similarity to a little-seen '80s flick starring Delaware’s own Judge Reinhold (which you should really track down if you are even slightly interested in this premise). In fact, the whole film feels like an '80s-era comedy that would play for a week before heading directly to video.
There is little outside the two leads to recommend, despite the presence of Rob Riggle (“22 Jump Street”), Keegan-Michael Key (“Key & Peele”), and Jonathan Lajoie (Taco from “The League”).
Let’s be lackadaisical. “Cops” is about as inventive as its title, with none of the subversive humor that ran through “The Wrong Guys” or the outright zaniness of “22 Jump Street.” Add to this a second-act romantic subplot that skids the flick to a dead stop, and you’re left with little else.
Johnson plays a slacker who is comfortable coasting on one-time acting residuals, and Wayans is his mousy roommate who avoids any and all confrontation.
The same qualities could be used to describe the film, as it too often runs in well-worn grooves of older comedies and, despite its R rating, does not dare to wander into far darker comedic waters.
Let’s be clear. There is nothing about “Cops” of merit despite its main actors, and you can catch better examples of their chemistry on the latest seasons of the Fox sitcom “The New Girl.” And speaking of sitcoms, that’s about the length of comedy it has room for - including commercial breaks.