“Let’s Be Cops” is a dumb movie that wants to be like “Lethal Weapon” or “The Other Guys,” a comedy action film about buddies with badges. It’s moderate box office returns are possibly in part because the unrest in Ferguson and news stories about police brutality made the timing bad for a cop comedy. The terrific Aisha Harris had an excellent piece on Slate about the film and how it missed the chance to take advantage of its premise for some sharper — and funnier — moments.
it’s interesting that the friend who sees each moment in which he somehow gets away with his fraud as the gateway to even bigger, and more dangerous (but fun!) hijinks, is white. In his own delusional world, pretending to be a cop is his path toward doing something with his life—on more than one occasion, Ryan explains to his friend, desperately, that he’s actually found a purpose in being a fake cop. Meanwhile, the friend who clearly wishes he wasn’t wrapped up in this mess is black. For him, the advantages that accompany being a cop—like the hot girl who is instantly turned on by the sight of your badge—don’t outweigh the serious jail time that awaits them once they’re found out. While the movie doesn’t interrogate the idea at all, Ryan is acting on the luxury he has as white male not to fear consequences in the same way that Justin does. Forget just impersonating a police officer—were the two of them to commit any crime in real life, Ryan would likely face a lighter sentence than Justin.
I thought about this in a scene where Ryan plays a prank on Justin by pretending to be a cop calling him over, with no clue that this would be a different experience for Justin than if it had been the other way around. Damon Wayans, Jr. even has one understated line making that point, but it is just glossed over. There is a point where movies go past living in a pleasant fantasy world that takes us away from our daily cares to a point where the disregard for what goes on in the world becomes a distraction.