Fox // 2007 // 80 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // June 5th, 2007
"Your watch is stuck in my pubes."
The bumbling twits of the Reno Sheriff's Department find their way to Miami in the first full-length film based on the popular Comedy Central series Reno! 911. I'm a fan of the show and had been looking to this film for some time and I'm happy to report I guffawed throughout.
The Reno gang is invited to a law enforcement conference in Miami, and immediately head to the beach in earnest. Led by Lieutenant Jim Dangle (Thomas Lennon), the idiot cops land in Florida, only to discover that it won't be all parties and sunbathing; a terrorist biohazard attack has cornered all the local law enforcement personnel in the event center, leaving Miami completely un-policed. So the task of guarding the city against criminal elements falls to Dangle and deputies Junior (Ben Garant, who also directed), Jones (Cedric Yarbrough), Garcia (Carlos Alazraqui), Wiegel (Kerri Kenney), Williams (Niecy Nash), Kimball (Mary Birdsong) and Johnson (Wendi McLendon-Covey).
The good news is that this movie is funny, regardless if you're a fan of the series or not. Sure there's not a lot of mythology associated with the show to carry over into the feature film, but Lennon, Kenney and Garant wisely wrote the film as a stand-alone spoof on C.O.P.S. and for the most part it works well. That being said, if you are a fan of the series, you may get an even bigger kick out of what goes down. I dig the series and the film brought all the elements I enjoy about the show to R-rated -- make that Unrated -- glory.
If you're not in on the joke, the basic premise is that the Reno sheriff's department staffs eight police officers who are complete @#$%-ups. Each officer has a personality quirk (Jones is a male bimbo, Garcia's a racist, Junior's white trash, Wiegel is insane) and taken as a whole, the crime-fighting unit is inept. The show's blueprint has the squad engaged in a series of comedy vignettes each episodes, with an over-arching story tying the 22 minutes together. As is the case with any rapid-fire-gag-based comedy, the laughs are hit and miss, yet I contend they hit more than they miss. Miami adopts the same formula, just expanded and with a ton of nudity. The main storyline deals with a drug-runner (played by Paul Rudd, who, of course, is hilarious) and his efforts to reclaim the streets of Miami from the Reno cops. Stuffed in between this lean plot is a collection of skits and smaller character stories (e.g., Johnson's quest to discover the identity of the man she had a drunken one night stand with and whose face is tattooed on her breasts). Though some of the bits are mediocre, enough nail it to earn a positive rating on the laugh ratio scorecard. Whether it's an alligator encounter with Jones and Garcia, the great Die Hard-like opening sequence, Williams's prosthetic hindquarters, or anything with Patton Oswalt (who plays the acting mayor), the writing and comic timing of these seasoned improv pros is in full effect. And then you've got a handful of moments that are brilliant, and, incidentally, the most "hardcore" of the bunch: the deputies' introduction to their macho SWAT Team commander, played by The Rock, ends in grisly fashion, an extended gag involving a beached whale at a topless beach is probably the film's comic centerpiece (and also ends in grisly fashion) and a did-they-just-do-that hotel sequence between Wiegel and Dangle turns a softcore sex sequence into probably the biggest laugh of the film. Let me take this opportunity to once again reiterate that this is a hard-R comedy, packed with profanity, comic gore, masturbation, whale slime and mucho T&A. If you and the kids have made a tradition of enjoying the tamer Comedy Central series, don't expect family-friendly fare here.
There are two criticisms I can level at the film. First, I don't quite get the necessity of adding another deputy to the crew, namely Mary Birdsong's Deputy Kimball. Birdsong seems nice enough and has a good feel for the material, but other than a tedious is-she-or-isn't-she-a-lesbian gag, there isn't all that much for her to do. And second, despite its release from the shackles of abiding by broadcast standards, Miami still feels likes little more than juiced-up episode from the series. The writers have adapted their tried-and-true game-plan into a feature-length experiment, and while I laughed plenty, there weren't many risks taken with the storytelling. Then again, a counterpoint could be made of What storytelling you pretentious idiot? This is a movie about exploding whales and a guy running around in crotch-hugging biker shorts!
Fox has served up a nice DVD. The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer holds up well, and the vibrant colors of Miami shine through. Still, don't expect a reference disc; this is after all, a single-camera film shot documentary style. For extras, you get two commentaries with the cast in character as the officers and one with Lennon, Kenney and Garant as the "real" writers; all three are funny. Extended scenes and a sequence of amusing fake PSAs round out the offering.
Yes, I'm a fan of the show, but I'll recommend this film to anyone looking for a funny, R-rated comedy. Most of the gags work and there are a few flashes of gut-busting excellence throughout. Plus, every former member of MTV's The State makes a cameo!
Guilty for sporting more laughs in the first five minutes than all the Police Academy sequels combined.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (French)
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (Spanish)
Running Time: 80 Minutes
Release Year: 2007
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Writers Commentary
* Two Cast Commentaries
* Extended Scenes