The TV spots and trailers for Let’s Be Cops made me extremely excited for this movie. I love both Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans Jr. as actors, as they both have a tendency to sign on to projects that have a very unique brand of humor. Their performances in other works have always left my sides aching. But this film just falls kind of flat. All of the best jokes were played out in the various marketing materials, and the ones they didn’t spend were overplayed and predictable, which was a bummer since the ads and the casting made me confident there would be some original humor in it.
Johnson plays almost exactly the same character he does on FOX’s New Girl, which is both a positive and a negative, since over the past seasons, Nick has become the reason I watch the show. But I was really hoping for something new on top of the grungy-30-something-who-accomplished-nothing-in-life he always plays. Wayans Jr., however, plays a totally different character, and while this could have been refreshing, his constant whining as the “bitch” character (which countless characters call him in the film) wears really thin, really fast. On top of that, it feels like Wayans Jr. is phoning in his performance, as I’ve seen him play funnier characters on both New Girl and ABC’s Happy Endings.
There were a couple funny moments with one of the more minor characters, a real cop played by Rob Riggle, most of which consisted of him very passionately believing in the two would-be heroes of the film. But they’re so short-lived and far-spread that it almost feels like he is an underutilized character. Pretty much all of the other side characters are either forgettable, or ones you wish were more forgettable. Including the part played by Key & Peele star Keegan-Michael Key, who appears as a bumbling gangbanger turned informant. Once again, you’d think that with so many people who have really helped to shape some of the best over-the-top comedy of the past few years this movie would have brought something unique.
All in all, Let’s Be Cops isn’t necessarily horrible, it’s just not the unique comedic romp that I felt we were all promised by the marketing. It’s not really worth theater ticket prices, but I’d say if you need a light dose of some buddy-cop chuckles, pick it up on Redbox in a couple months, as I don’t see this film having a particularly long theater lifespan. Instead, I’ll end this review the way every review of a bad movie has ended this month, spend your money to go see Guardians of the Galaxy again. I know I wish I had.