Fox has reaped nifty little paydays from risque comedies, but the minimal effort expended on this barely-feature-length version of Comedy Central’s “Reno 911!” exposes the exercise for what it is — namely, an opening-weekend pit stop en route to the inevitable unrated DVD release, which will likely do reasonably well. Running a mere 80 minutes and somehow still feeling heavily padded, this “Cops” spoof yields a few amusing (if widely spaced) moments but otherwise simply revels in the gratuitous nudity, language and below-the-belt gags that an “R” rating provides.
With the series in its fifth season — chronicling in deadpan, mock cinema verite-style the crime-fighting efforts of Reno’s police force — the producers obviously felt the movie needed a splashier stage, even if the biggest little city in the world is amusingly described near the outset as “like Mayberry, except everyone’s on crystal meth and prostitution’s legal.”
So writer-stars Robert Ben Garant (who also directed), Thomas Lennon and Kerri Kenney-Silver came up with the flimsy excuse of shipping Reno’s eight sheriffs to a police convention in Miami, only to have a crisis leave them the only cops available to patrol the streets.
Following a setup that showcases the group partying in Florida — which includes not only a mass-masturbation scene, but a depth charge consisting of tequila and Pepto-Bismol — the movie then devolves into an extra-long episode of the TV program. Capitalizing on the venue, the cops encounter an alligator in a swimming pool (funny), trouble at a topless beach (obvious) and a weed whacker-wielding mobster (Paul Rudd, in one of many celebrities making cameos, among them producer Danny DeVito) that parodies the Al Pacino version of “Scarface.”
That virtually all the jokes prove sophomoric is to be expected, whether they dwell on the sexuality of Lt. Jim Dangle (Lennon), he of the skin-tight shorts; the ample bosom of Deputy Clementine (Wendi McLendon-Covey), sporting a mysterious tattoo; or Deputy Trudy (Kenney-Silver), pining for Dangle and seeking to learn how to be hip from Deputy Raineesha (Niecy Nash), who patrols the local beaches in a thong.
Like any improvised comedy, though, there’s a rarely-hit-and-mostly-miss element to the goings-on. It’s telling that the obligatory closing-credit sequence displaying additional footage (not outtakes) isn’t any better, suggesting there was hardly a glut of laugh-out-loud gems left on the cutting-room floor.
All of which goes to demonstrate that while it’s easy enough to slap a colon on a lowbrow cable TV show, additional punctuation by itself isn’t sufficient to actually transform it into a movie.