Buddy cop movies (like 48 Hours, Lethal Weapon, Rush Hour, Bad Boys) have been around for so long they are probably a sub-genre in their own right. While the partners in these movies may have started out as polar opposites or by rubbing each other up the wrong way, recently their relationship in these films has become downright irritating (think Ride Along for starters).
Let’s Be Cops is about a couple of struggling 30 year olds, who dress as police officers for a masquerade party and are surprised that putting on a blue uniform can quickly win respect and “chicks”. Justin (Damon Wayans Jr.) and Ryan (Jake Johnson) have been languishing since their school days ended. Justin toils at a video game company, where he is seriously undervalued. Ryan dreams of his glory days as a college football quarterback, that are long behind him.
It is only when Ryan – the far pushier and more bombastic of the pair – decides to virtually stay in costume permanently and buy the necessary accoutrements after the response they receive when donning the navy blue, that things really take off. The dynamic duo quickly gets tangled up with a web of mobsters and suddenly these bumbling wannabes have to put their fake badges on the line.
It is clearly a ridiculous premise, but that – of course – is the whole point, the two trying to get away with something they are not (wasn’t the line in Shakespeare’s Hamlet that “clothes makes the man”, or words to that effect) to make something of themselves.
The idea for Let’s Be Cops was born when director and co-writer Luke Greenfield decided to spend Halloween in a cop’s clobber – a choice that had unexpected consequences. His costume designer at the time got him a real LAPD uniform and he and his buddy then proceeded to walk around Los Angeles. The sense of power and authority they had was incredible. Greenfield was single at the time and it became quite easy to talk to women on the street.
Let’s Be Cops is fun, fanciful and, in short, over-the-top stupid, although it does have a few moments. It is essentially popcorn entertainment aimed at young blokes, nothing more and nothing less. I reckon this is the kind of film that knows its role in amongst the pantheon of motion pictures. It doesn’t aim high and therefore some might say you can’t be disappointed.
Jake Johnson has episodes where you just want to slap some sense into him, but his irritation factor was just below Kevin Hart’s in Ride Along, not that that says a great deal, because we are talking here about lowest common denominator material.