Adding an unusual twist to a tried and tested movie formula, director Luke Greenfield's Let's Be Cops, released in the UK on DVD & Blu-Ray this week (December 29th), is the classic 'buddy cop' movie in every sense except one: the two cops involved aren't actually cops, just a couple of guys who get a little carried away with the dress-ups box...
The plot goes something like this: Ryan (Jake Johnson) and Justin (Damon Wayans Jr.) are two twenty-something guys whose lives are going nowhere fast, when they get invited to a fancy dress party. Deciding to dress up as cops, they are pleasantly surprised with the way people react to them in uniform and Ryan enjoys it so much he decides to take things one step further and buy an ex-police cruiser, complete with radios and sirens.
The two new 'cops' on the block are soon find themselves a hit with the neighbourhood, but quickly discover that they're out of their depth when they become mixed up in the world of real life cops and career criminals, finding themselves in the crosshairs of a crime kingpin. With a cast list that's headed up by Johnson and Wayans Jr. you can expect lots of silliness, and there are also appearances from Andy Garcia, who stars as the crime boss Brolin, as well as comedy turns from Rob Riggle and Keegan-Michael Key.
For those looking for realism, you'd be well advised to avert your eyes from the tongue-in-cheek comedy on offer here, so if this level of comedic silliness doesn't float your boat we've picked out five more great films about being cops for real.
Let's Be Cops - Official Trailer #2 (2014)
Edgar Wright delivers the perfect example how to do a buddy cop comedy properly with this classic from 2007 starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. When over-achieving cop Scott Angel (Pegg) is sent on a secondment in the sleepy village of Sandford, he soon discovers that not all is at it seems in this picturesque little town and sets about uncovering the community's murky secrets. With a brilliant cast, sharp gags and loads of explosions, it's a homage to the buddy cop genre without sliding into pastiche, and its brilliant.
Heavily referenced in Edgar Wright's aforementioned comedy classic, Michael Bay's 1995 film starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence represented something of a revival for the buddy cop movies like Lethal Weapon and Tango and Cash that were so prevalent in the 1980s. When two narcotics cops see the biggest drugs haul of their careers stolen from right under their noses, they are drawn into a murder investigation and must protect their only witness, even it that means hiding her at home and lying about which one is which. As funny as it is action-packed, this is still one of our favourite cop movies.
Taking a completely different approach to the police narrative, Curtis Hanson's noir-ish crime thriller features a stellar cast that includes Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, Guy Pierce, Danny DeVito and Kim Basinger among many others, detailing a 1950s world of corrupt cops and shady underworld criminals. Thanks to some clever plots twists and some brilliant anti-chemistry between Pierce's golden boy cop and Crowe's law-bending loose cannon, Hanson's film remains smart and gripping throughout.
Beverly Hills Cop
In the mid-1980s Eddie Murphy was a huge star, selling out arenas with his stand-up comedy, appearing as a regular on Saturday Night Live and starring in a string of hit movies like 48 Hrs and Trading Places, but one of his best-known roles is that of Detroit police officer Axel Foley in this classic fish-out-of-water cop movie from director Martin Brest. On the trail of the gag that he believes is behind the death of his colleague, Foley leaves behind the mean streets of Detroit and heads for the sunshine of California, enlisting help from two local cops and getting them into heaps of trouble. Two sequels followed and a fourth movie is now well into production, so you can expect Foley and friends to return in the not-too-distant future.
Detailing the real-life story of an exceptional police officer who turned whistleblower, Sidney Lumet's film starring Al Pacino as Frank Serpico still stands up as one of the greatest cop movies of all time. Pacino's over-achieving cop graduates from uniformed officer to plain-clothes detective, alienating his colleagues and making countless enemies as he goes and the story, based on the book by the late Peter Haas, is one of a lonely straight-up guy in a world of crooks, many of whom wear the same badge as him. Tense, broody and thrilling, it's one of the best cop movies ever, hands down.