Movie Review: Let’s Be Cops


Two washed-up thirty-something friends are mistaken for real cops when they don costumes, but when they go along with it the pretend policemen find themselves in real danger.


Luke Greenfield, 2014

Irresponsible Ryan (Jake Johnson) is a former college football star who has failed to do anything with his life since an injury stopped him from being able to play. Tightly wound Justin (Damon Wayans Jr.) is a low-level assistant at a video game company who is trying to get his break by selling a game about being a police officer. When the men go to their high school reunion in the costumes Justin bought to help him sell his game, they are embarrassed by a) the fact that it’s a masquerade ball and b) their perceived failure in life. On their way home from the party, they are mistaken on the street for real officers. Enjoying the buzz, Ryan talks Justin into continuing the ruse. However, they soon find themselves in hot water after helping the waitress Justin likes. Josie (Nina Dobrev) and her bosses are terrorised by mobster Mossi (James D’Arcy) and the dangerous, violent criminal proves to be more than Ryan and Justin can handle.


I’m a huge Happy Endings fan, and I watch Mean Girls. I enjoy the particular brand of humour these actors bring to the table, and they have good chemistry, even if the character tropes have been done before. I love Damon Wayans Jr. in this kind of role – Justin is less nuanced than Happy Endings’ yuppie Brad, but frequently as funny when he’s out of his slightly nerdy element. Jake Johnson is a little abrasive as Ryan, going at the character hard and making him pretty unlikeable at first, although he warms up as the movie continues. The supporting cast is fine, with James D’Arcy bringing the threat and being genuinely menacing (so much so that, in comparison, Andy Garcia seems much less frightening as Mossi’s boss and uncle). When Keegan-Michael Key (of TV’s brilliant sketch show Key & Peele) gets involved as a Latin henchman, he brings a much-needed third dimension to the dynamic that opens up more opportunities for humour.

And opportunities for humour are what this film sorely needs. The crime of this movie is that it isn’t particularly funny. Certain moments made me laugh out loud (Justin on drugs is a particular stand-out, and most of the best moments are his), but they were few and far between. Jokes go on for much too long, and this kind of loose improvisational style of humour that’s so popular right now doesn’t really work when it has such thin characters and such a run of the mill plot trying to prop it up. The jokes, such as they are, are frequently unfunny (women throw themselves at cops! yelling at children is funny! they made some lackeys dance! etc.), and the movie really relies on the charisma of its leads. Apparently this is one of those on-screen worlds where female cops (or women with lines who aren’t throwing themselves at the heroes) don’t exist, which is not fun. I like these comedians, but I like them when they’ve got some good material to work with and riff off instead of this bland, unfunny, frequently sexist nonsense.

Let’s Be Cops on IMDb


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