‘Let’s Be Cops’ (2014) review: Stop! (in the name of decency)

‘Let’s Be Cops’ fails to capitalize on its talented leads

From its strained opening to its ignominious conclusion, “Let’s Be Cops” challenges us to see how long we can grit our teeth while suffering through one awkward, idiotic adventure to the next. And it’s not the “I can understand the premise of this awkwardness” type, either. We’re talking full-on stupidity so intense you want to cover your eyes because you can’t believe someone would behave that way in the real world.

“Let’s Be Cops,” directed by Luke Greenfield (who helmed “The Girl Next Door,” which pains me to say because I enjoyed the ridiculousness of that movie), takes the understandable concept of everyone wanting to be appreciated and confident in themselves and runs right into the ground with a plot so asinine, you’ll find yourself having a hard time suspending disbelief and just going with it.

This isn’t “The Hangover” where you can imagine a crazy bachelor party. Instead, we’re supposed to believe that two idiots dressed as LAPD officers convince everyone from the local waitress to high-ranking officers who are actually LAPD that they are the real deal. It seems like someone was watching too many movies.

The problems begin right from the get-go, with Justin (Damon Wayans Jr.) and his roommate, Ryan (Jake Johnson), clearly suffering from a lack of confidence. Justin is a video game designer who lets himself get overrun at work and his ideas trampled on, and Ryan is basically a sad sack who can’t get over an injury that prevented from going pro in football. But one misread masquerade ball invitation later, the guys are donned in LAOD uniforms and basking in the power that assumed authority grants them.

It doesn’t take long before the duo (Ryan in particular) take the matter too far. Instead of just one night of pretending, they soon gear up as though they’re actual cops and try to intervene in actual police business: from domestic disturbance calls to trying to catch vandals after they break into a store. But that’s not all of course: The plot gets moving when the guys find themselves up against a crime boss with inside connections into the police force. And they may smoke crystal meth and deputize a pre-teen boy in their efforts to take down the bad guys.

You see where I’m going with this. It’s just too much stupidity to warp into one ill-advised adventure into feeling better about yourself. Go to a self-help seminar or do some charity work; there’s no need to try to take on the mob with fake guns.

All of this idiocy is a shame, too, because Wayans and Johnson actually have a comedic chemistry worthy of the big screen. The two are part of the main cast of “New Girl,” and it’s been shown time and again that they an easy rapport. Toss in a hilarious Keegan-Michael Key, and you would think it would be a recipe for success. Even the love interest, Nina Dobrev (“The Vampire Diaries”), proved interesting and down-to-earth. All talents are wasted here as we jump from one harebrained stunt to the next. (One exception: Natasha Leggero’s portrayal of a floozy during the surveillance stakeout is so in-your-face outrageous you can’t help but laugh.)

In the end, “Let’s Be Cops” wants you to believe that two guys who simply happen to have access to some cop uniforms can fool everyone into thinking they’re here to serve and protect. I suppose it helps that they get transform an eBay vehicle into a squad car and harass people with it. If only they could have been that creative with the rest of the movie.

One less-than-transformative star out of five.

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Above, a scene from "Let's Be Cops." (Photo credit: 20th Century Fox)

Above, a scene from “Let’s Be Cops.” (Photo credit: 20th Century Fox)

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