Quick summary in case you feel TLDR about reviews: Let’s Be Cops has some fun laughs, mostly because Jake Johnson (Ryan) and Damon Wayans, Jr. (Justin) are great together, but it doesn’t generate a real sense of mystery or danger. It’s good for hanging out with friends and chilling but won’t get you to the edge of your seat.
The poster tag line is “Fake Cops, Real Trouble” but it should be “Real Friends, Fake Cops, Falsely Dramatic Trouble”
What do I mean?
After Ryan and Justin take being fake cops too far, the story tries to force them into a thriller movie. It almost feels like the film is about to take a dark turn, but then shies away from the risky move to really make the “trouble real”. I would love that, if all of sudden this fun romp in uniform got crazy, but most people are obviously happy knowing that the good guys will win and only bad guys get hurt. Let’s look at the film’s scores. Let’s Be Cops has a Metacritic film score of 30/100, a 21% (3.8/10 average rating but the audience score says 63% liked it) on Rotten Tomatoes, 6.8/10 on IMDb, and as of August 24, 2014, Let’s Be Cops grossed $47.2 million against its $17 million budget. Critics think it’s terrible, most people think it’s OK, and popcorn movie goers paid to see it.
Rob Riggle, as the real Patrol Officer Segars, does a pretty good job with what he’s got to work with, but it’s not believable that he buys the charade in the beginning, encourages Ryan and Justin to pursue the dangerous Mossi, and delivers them to Andy Garcia’s dirty Detective Brolin. Because the fake cops are so silly and cartoonish, which generates the laughs, the real cops don’t feel serious at all. The end of the movie tries to deal with the cheese by hanging a lantern on it, but you still end up with a predictable ending and no real tension.
And that’s OK. Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans, Jr. are charming and loveable enough that I would watch them hang out together for two hours, no problem. And the masses agree. But sometimes I think about what it would be like if a comedy went there. If shit got real. What if Mossi killed George? Or the boring love interest character, Josie? Or Ryan during the torture?
What if Ryan went out on patrol with another white cop and shot an unarmed black man?
We don’t go to see movies for that though, right? We go to escape. We want to have fun, which the movie reduces the entire experience to by making it into a video game. That feels like I’m trashing video games as a real, emotional experience, but it’s just how the ending of Let’s Be Cops presents Justin’s game that leaves me feeling like it was all fake. Real friends. Fake cops. Falsely dramatic trouble.
– Roz Y.