A lot can be said for great chemistry carrying a movie. Even if the actual story, events or set-pieces the movie relies on are mediocre or even quite rubbish, a movie can still succeed if it has two great leads carrying the weight of the film. That is luckily the case with Let’s Be Cops, which is by no means a terrible movie but does benefit from the great two leads that drive the story forward.
Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans Jr are clearly friends and their chemistry drives this movie forward. Even in some of the stories lulls or slower moments, it’s their dialogue and scenes together which keep the film pushing forward. It’s exactly what made 21 Jump Street work and the same elements are repeated here.
In fact, it follows a very similar trend. Although the premise is slightly reversed, the same basic elements are there, with two mismatched friends, finding themselves out of their depth with a crazy villain to catch (in this instance played very casually and without effort by Andy Garcia). It even follows some of the same story beats, including a disagreement between the central two, accidental drug use and a highly charged, exaggerated finale.
It’s lucky that it also has the same style of comedy in common with Jump Street as well. The central story, about the two friends accidentally being mistaken for cops and then deciding to keep up the pretence, is a great idea with plenty of material to take advantage of. Their first attempt to break-up a domestic dispute is a particular highlight, as is a store robbery.
It means we get a great middle of the movie, with some genuinely laugh out loud moments. This is slightly dampened by the rushed beginning, which is desperate to get to the moment when the two are cops, and the over-zealous end, which doesn’t really seem to know what it is going for. At times it feels like it is triumphing what the two leads have done, impersonating officers, at other times it seems like an advert for the bravery of America’s police officers. Both work but not when they are so clearly at odds with each other.
Luckily, the middle of the movie is worth the slightly random bookends. It is a very good idea and is brilliantly funny in places. I would gladly see more of Johnson and Wayans Jr again, and not just in New Girl.
Overall, Let’s Be Cops is a very funny movie, which takes two leads with great chemistry and places them in a solid scenario for comedy. It borrows more than a little from the Jump Street franchise but luckily it holds-its own comically. A poor start and a mixed ending aside, another decent 2014 comedy.
Rating – 3.5
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