Review: Let’s Be Cops

Last Updated on August 2, 2021

PLOT: Two down-on-their luck pals (Jake Johnson & Damon Wayans Jr.) pose as cops and get into big trouble with a local gangster, who wants both guys – cops or not – dead.

REVIEW: LET'S BE COPS has a premise that could have been lifted out of an eighties movie. Come to think of it, wasn't there an eighties Judge Reinhold movie with the same idea? OFF BEAT? Yet, while the idea behind LET'S BE COPS didn't inspire much hope, it did have a few things going for it. One is director Luke Greenfield, whose last r-rated comedy was the surprisingly decent THE GIRL NEXT DOOR. The other is that it pairs real-life pals and NEW GIRL co-stars Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans Jr., both of whom have big breakout potential. With word-of-mouth screenings happening all over the place all summer long, could LET'S BE COPS be the sleeper comedy hit we've been waiting for all summer?

If only that was the case. Sadly, while LET'S BE COPS isn't a total loss, it ends up being a pretty weak comedy, with a plot that's tough to invest in, and a tone that's all over the place. Maybe the goal was to turn this into a BEVERLY HILLS COP/ HOT FUZZ style action comedy, but when you're going ultra-goofy for ninety percent of the running time, making a last minute detour into a surprisingly gritty action flick doesn't go down easy.

Worst of all is that the premise doesn't really sustain a 100 minute film. After twenty minutes or so, we've pretty much had our fill of Johnson and Wayans posing as cops. That they stumble into a major arms cartel thanks to Wayans' flirtation with a pretty waitress (Nina Dobrev) stretched the premise to the breaking point, and their investigation, which is no doubt supposed to be “hilarious” is only intermittently funny. Some jokes, like Wayans being forced to smoke crystal meth, are good for a chuckle or two, but the endless scenes of Johnson and Wayans staking out the baddies (led by a goateed Andy Garcia and a buff James D'Arcy) or interrogating Keegan-Michael Key's Lil'Wayne esque informant, drag on and on.

Still, it's not a total loss. The first part of the movie has a few genuine laughs (with many gross-out gags that, while crass, kinda work), and Wayans and Johnson have chemistry to burn. They feel like real-life pals, and their relationship comes off as genuine. In the end, you believe that they would stick their necks out for each other, although the final shootout is almost completely played straight. This would have worked if LET'S BE COPS had been more grounded, like a BEVERLY HILLS COP or STAKEOUT, but it's so zany up to this point that it's comparable to the ending of TURNER & HOOCH, where Hooch all of a sudden takes a shotgun blast to the chest from Craig T. Nelson. It's too jarring, and then following the shootout (with a body count in the double digits) we're right back to being a zany comedy, with a joke ending that begs for a sequel and goofy outtakes. This beats RIDE ALONG, but just by a hair. Johnson and Wayans both have great careers ahead of them, but LET'S BE COPS isn't the best showcase for either of them.

Let's Be Cops



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About the Author

Chris Bumbray began his career with JoBlo as the resident film critic (and James Bond expert) way back in 2007, and he has stuck around ever since, being named editor-in-chief in 2021. A voting member of the CCA and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, you can also catch Chris discussing pop culture regularly on CTV News Channel.