The old saying, “clothes make the man,” has been altered slightly for a new comedy starring “New Girl’s” alum Damon Wayons Jr. and Jake Johnson. The pair play friends Justin and Ryan, thirty-somethings trying unsuccessfully to make a go of it in Los Angeles.
A masquerade party changes everything for them. Suited up as policemen they soon realize that people treat them differently when they wear the badge. Walking down Sunset Strip they discover that women really do love a man in uniform and for the first time since they moved to California from small town Ohio, they aren’t invisible.
On a lark they use their fake badges to break up an actual crime, a shakedown by a gang on a small restaurant. The bad guys flee, and bolstered by his first bust Ryan embraces the charade, buying a cop car on eBay, sewing sergeant’s patches on his uniform and going on out real life police calls. Justin wants to hang up the uniform before the situation gets out of control, but Ryan is determined to bring down the leader of the shakedown gang, a violent thug named Mossi (James D’Arcy). When things get out of control Justin calls Officer Segars (Rob Riggle). “It started off as fun,” he says, “but now we need help from real cops.”
“Let’s Be Cops” isn’t really a police story, nor is it, by the ratio of minutes-to-laughs, really a comedy. It falls somewhere in between. It’s actually about self-worth, power, respect and getting in over your head with a bit of satire thrown in. The leads have great chemistry and Riggle is always worth a look, but as buddy-buddy as the characters are, it isn’t as funny as “21 Jump Street.”
The high energy screwball tone of the first hour makes way for a low-rent looking “Bad Boys” homage in the final half-hour, becoming the very kind of movie it attempted to satirize in the first place.
SYNOPSIS: The 21 Jump Street high school undercover cops Schmidt and Jenko (Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum) are back, but this time they’re narco cops. That is until they botch an investigation into drug lord Ghost’s (Peter Stormare) operation. Their failure gets them demoted back to the 22 Jump Street (they moved across the road) program. Jump Street’s Captain Dickson (Ice Cube) sends them undercover, as unlikely brothers Brad and Doug McQuaid, to college to arrest the supplier of a drug named WHYPHY (WiFi). The bumbling, but self-confident duo infiltrates the college, but campus life—frat house parties, football and girls—threaten to blow apart their partnership.
Richard: 3 ½ Stars
Mark: 3 Stars
Richard: Mark, Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum are producers on the new Jump Street film, which, I guess, explains all the jokes about how much everything cost. At one point Hill actually says, “It’s way more expensive for no reason at all.” I don’t know how much the movie cost to make, but the self-aware jokes did make me laugh even though it is essentially a remake of the first film, with a few more Laurel and Hardy slapstick gags and amped up explosions. What was your take?
Mark: Richard, I liked this installment way more than the previous outing. I loved all the self-referential gags, including the brilliant end-credits that hilariously make fun of the inevitable sequels that will follow. I credit the directors, Phil Lord and Chris Miller, for the knowing pop culture sophistication they brought to the film. They directed the first one too, but they’ve grown more confident since their Lego Movie hit, which also tweaked the audience’s expectations in a similar way.
RC: The end credit sequence, which maps out the next sequels from number 3 to installment 43—they go to Beauty School and Magic School among other places of higher learning— is probably the funniest part of the movie. The stuff that comes before is amiable, relying on the Mutt and Jeff chemistry of Hill and Tatum for laughs. It’s boisterous and aims to please, but best of all are the self-referential jokes. By clowning around about the difficulty in making the sequel better than the original they’re winking at the audience, acknowledging that this is basically a spoof of Hollywood sequels. It’s subversive, meta and kind of brilliant.
MB: Yep. Because I can see explosions and pratfalls in any “action comedy”; it’s the subversive stuff that makes this movie stand apart. The intergender fight sequence between Jonah Hill and Jillian Bell (who is incredible throughout the film) is as subversive a take on sexual politics and “rape culture” that you will ever find. It’s these kinds of scenes that kept me laughing through the picture. The black stoner twins, played expertly by The Lucas Bros, were a masterpiece of writing and comic timing.
RC: I agree, but ill-timed jokes about Maya Angelou and Tracy Morgan were sore thumbs for me, but that’s more co-incidence, I guess than bad taste.
MB: I don’t think those jokes were deliberate, but they sure broke the spell for me. But then Ice Cube’s comic rants got me back.
When Jonah Hill’s reboot of 21 Jump Street hits theatres this weekend, it joins a long list of big screen adaptations of small screen hits.
Everything from sci-fi shows like The X-Files to comedies like The Addams Family and even reality and games shows (Jackass and The Gong Show) have made the leap from TV to theatres.
Hill describes the new 21 Jump Street as an “R-rated, insane, Bad-Boys-meets-John Hughes-type movie.”
I don’t remember the TV show the movie is based on as being that edgy but if William Shatner’s cop show T.J. Hooker can be turned into an adult-friendly flick called T.J. Hookers, I suppose anything is possible.
Probably the most spun-off TV franchise is Star Trek. Between the original show and the TV offshoots, 11 films have gone where no film series has gone before.
The 2009 J.J. Abrams reboot with Chris Pine as James T. Kirk was a special effects extravaganza but the Wrath of Khan seems to tickle Trekkies the most. Based on the 1967 episode Space Seed, it’s believed to be the first time a movie was made as a sequel to a specific episode.
Ricardo Montalbán took a break from Fantasy Island to take the role, but had one request: he was a gym devotee and wanted costumes that would show off his muscular chest.
The original pilot for the hip spy show The Man From U.N.C.L.E. was actually shot with a theatrical release in mind. Although the show would air in black-and-white on NBC, the pilot was shot in colour with some racier scenes added in. The tame version aired on television, while the sexier edit played in theatres as To Trap a Spy.
Finally, sketch comedy shows have also been a fertile breeding ground for movies. Saturday Night Live has spawned a dozen films, giving us characters like Wayne and Garth and the Coneheads.
Years before SNL was even on television legendary comedy troupe Monty Python used cinema as a way to court a new worldwide audience for their TV show. And Now for Something Completely Different contains re-filmed skits from the first two seasons of their show, including the classic Nudge, Nudge, and Dead Parrot sketches.
The movie is best summed up in the words of Sergeant-Major (played by Graham Chapman). “Now, I would just like to point out that this film is displaying a distinct tendency to become silly.”