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.