There are many shades of awful movies. Luke Greenfield’s Let’s Be Cops is an example of the wholly perfunctory, forgettable and tedious kind. It’s just bad and doesn’t even have the temerity to be offensive — to be so terrible that it gives me something to truly complain about. At least it might have the decency to give me a reason to get worked up and have things to actually write about. Instead, the movie just flops around, being meandering and unfunny and going on for far too long, doing nothing memorable to the point that not only should it not exist, it almost doesn’t to begin with.
This should come as no real shock, since the movie both stars Damon Wayans, Jr. (The Other Guys) — the latest in Earth’s greatest renewable resource, Wayanses — and is directed by Luke Greenfield. Greenfield’s made a Kate Hudson romcom (Something Borrowed (2011)), a Rob Schneider comedy (The Animal (2001)) and — now — a movie with a Wayans, which is … well, depressing. There’s no joke here; I honestly feel bad for the guy at this point. The film obviously wants to jump on the coattails of the recent spate of buddy cop comedies that have come out and been successful, like Edgar Wright’s Hot Fuzz (2007) and Phil Lord and Christopher Miller’s 21 Jump Street (2012). But like any photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy, it’s a pallid imitation.
The idea here is that two buddies, one a failed actor (Jake Johnson, Safety Not Guaranteed), the other a struggling video game designer (Wayans), go to a costume party dressed as cops and quickly find the leeway and privileges abusing this sort of ill-gotten power gets them. But after getting a bit too far into the pretending-to-be-a-cop thing, they soon find themselves trying to take down some mobsters. Hijinks are partaken of along the way, until any attempt at being funny finally peters out, and the movie just turns into a vaguely serious action movie.
Tucked in between is a whole mess of indifference, since Greenfield has no sense of pace, letting the movie sort of ooze out for 104 minutes, which — trust me — is way too long for this kind of comedy. Usually, this is the part where I’d describe the comedy, but it’s kind of this amorphous blob of theoretical jokes. There are a lot of wisecracks and some shouting with a little slapstick thrown in, but I’ll be damned if I remember any specifics. The whole thing’s just a blur and one, I suspect, that’s better left that way. Rated R for language including sexual references, some graphic nudity, violence and drug use.