Imagine Brooklyn Nine-Nine the movie, with no one actually being legit police, and it starring the guys from New Girl.
Review (with Spoilers)
Consider this the film starring those who you would probably never think of when it comes to getting first billing. For while Jake Johnson has done well for himself with New Girl, as well as his indie movies, and Damon Wayans, Jr. is the 2nd generation of the biggest comedy family since the Marx brothers, neither really seem like the type you can imagine being stars. But in this film they certainly try to prove the world wrong. The question is: did they succeed?
Characters & Story
Two men who just hit 30 are realizing their move out to LA is pretty much a bust. Ryan (Jake Johnson) has for 8 years been the guy who should of went pro in the NFL, but now is just known for an STD commercial. Then his best friend, and roommate, Justin (Damon Wayans, Jr.) is this wanna-be game designer who pretty much just takes notes at meetings and is never taken seriously. So during a college or high school reunion, strangely in LA despite them being from Ohio, they dress up as cops and as more and more people think they are cops, and treat them with respect and admiration, they start to really dig the effect.
Ryan especially for with him living off of the money the STD commercial got him, he is in real bad shape. But with the badge he gets the respect and cool factor he had when he was a star athlete, and with the badge comes Justin’s love interest Josie (Nina Dobrev) taking an interest in him. But things start to get a little too real once Ryan and Justin stumble upon a Russian gang issue where Josie works. Leading to them having to face off against Mossi Kasaic (James D’Arcy) and his organization. Something which leads to them getting shot at, nearly caught by the police, and you being left wondering if all the fun and games perhaps may lead to one, or both, of them ending up dead.
I’ll admit I walked into this movie with very low expectations. If just because no one’s name from the director/ writer down to the stars really make you think, “Yeah, this is going to be one good movie.” Damn if I wasn’t wrong. For with a laugh count of 31, if you include the credits and the laughs being continuous throughout, the movie may not reach the heights of a classic, but it is good enough for you to understand why it wasn’t something straight to DVD or premiering on Comedy Central. For both Johnson and Wayans not only have good chemistry with one another, and bring on quite a bit of laughs, some of which went over my head but made the people next to me roar, they also are capable of showing a deeper side to their characters.
What I mean by that is, unlike a lot of comedians nowadays, you can see both actors are just as much capable of making you laugh, as trying to show you the human side to this characters. Like Ryan being a has-been who technically never was anything. You can see that he’s fully-aware of what people say, how much of a disappointment he is, but he still tries to fight through whatever negative emotions he has so that he doesn’t end up pensive like Justin, or perhaps depressed. Then with Justin, you get to see him bring on a taste of adulthood reminiscent to Seth Rogen’s character in Neighbors but without the topic being delivered so heavy handed. Making for an overall good balance of action, character development, and a laughs.
The main issues when it comes to this film is that the comedy style(s) used aren’t what we are used to. The film tries to combine realism and a sense of exaggeration to make it where the film doesn’t try to dwell on how odd it is to see two men have a close relationship; have either of them solely aim for low brow humor to get us to laugh; or use a huge amount of jokes dealing with people’s genitals. A lot of the jokes are like stuff you would come up with, but not be able to throw out there one after another.
Making the only real problem being that the story isn’t original at all. Pretty much it follows a checklist of what is necessary for the plot including: Foreign gangsters; crooked cops; one of the guys getting tired of the other guy’s behavior and that leading to them splitting; a girl who is mixed in with a bad crowd; and anything else you would expect.
Overall: TV Viewing
While this doesn’t feel like it should have been straight to DVD, a VoD exclusive, or just released on TV, it does somehow feel like it lacks the panache of what you expect a film released in theaters to have. Be it because it doesn’t have big explosions, the fact none of the stars have that overwhelming charisma you expect out of those who headline a movie, or just because the films is constantly trying to fight against your expectations, something about this film leaves you thinking it was good, but it doesn’t leave you with a different opinion of the actors involved. Hence the TV Viewing label for while it was funny, and had a more consistent villain than Ride Along, the failure to not seek some way to really stand out amongst the buddy cop genre, besides them not being cops, keeps this from being Worth Seeing.
Things to Note
It should be noted that Nina Dobrev’s character got some character development. Not a huge amount, since this is a buddy cop movie and she was just the love interest, but at the very least we learned she had a string of bad boyfriends, wanted to be a makeup artist, and we got to not only see her work, but she got to participate and be more than a pretty face.
I was completely unsure what the point of Natasha Leggero’s character Annie was, as well as why no one found it creepy how Ryan spent most of his days hanging around a bunch of middle school kids, playing football with them, as well as him doting on one, Joey (Joshua Ormond), who he would spend alone time with, and take home.
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