×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Locarno Film Review: ‘Wrong Cops’

Quentin Dupieux's latest provocation manages to seem both insipid and pretentious.

With:

Mark Burnham, Eric Judor, Steve Little, Marilyn Manson, Eric Wareheim, Grace Zabriskie, Arden Myrin, Ray Wise, Steve Howey, Daniel Quinn.

Only the most forgiving connoisseurs of le bad cinema will find much right about “Wrong Cops,” a monstrously unfunny “Police Academy”/“Reno 911” knockoff directing with just enough winking self-awareness to seem both insipid and pretentious. Originally presented as a 45-minute work-in-progress at Sundance this year, this latest provocation by French electronic music artist and filmmaker Quentin Dupieux shows little of the off-kilter savoir faire that earned his previous “Rubber” and “Wrong” a not-undeserved cult of admirers. Outside the odd midnight screening here and there, the pic should head straight to movie jail without passing Go.

Conceived by Dupieux as a standalone vehicle for the questionable comic gifts of star Mark Burnham, here reprising his policeman role from “Wrong,” the pic revolves around a group of disaffected Los Angeles cops who bungle more cases than they solve and pay the law about as much mind as does a cow to the flies swarming about its tail. First seen selling bags of pot concealed in the bodies of dead rats, slovenly officer Duke (Burnham) spends most of “Wrong Cops” trying to dispose of the body of a neighbor he’s accidentally shot, and who now lies bleeding to death in the trunk of Burnham’s car.

Duke recruits desk cop Sunshine (Steve Little) to do the dirty deed in exchange for canceling his unpaid pot debt, but when the latter finds a duffel bag full of cash buried in his backyard, he reneges. At which point, fellow officers Renato (Eric Wareheim) and his partner Shirley (Arden Myrin) try blackmailing Sunshine with — what else? — photographic evidence of his gay-pornography past. Another, only slightly less groan-inducing vignette concerns the efforts of cop Rough (Eric Judor) to break into the music world with a truly horrific Casio-keyboard instrumental. (As usual, Dupieux himself composed pic’s electronic score under his recording name, Mr. Oizo.)

None of this rates so much as a grin or a giggle, but judging by the endless repetition of gags (if there’s one pot-stuffed dead rat here, there’s a dozen), Dupieux either thinks it’s all rather hilarious or means it to be so unfunny that we laugh at the meta-hilarity of it all. Either way you slice it, “Wrong Cops” serves mainly to remind that making an enjoyably bad movie — whether intentionally or not — isn’t as easy as it looks. Tommy Wiseau has nothing to worry about here.

Pointless cameos by the likes of Eric Roberts, Marilyn Manson (cast, in one of the pic’s typically absurdist gestures, as a high-school student) and “Twin Peaks” alum Ray Wise suggest a grasping for some sort of hipster cachet. Production values seem designed to evoke homevideos of the pre-HD era — a gambit at which the pic indisputably triumphs.

Popular on Variety

Locarno Film Review: 'Wrong Cops'

Reviewed at Locarno Film Festival (Piazza Grande), Aug. 8, 2013. Running time: 82 MIN.

Production:

(France-U.S.) A Gregory Bernard presentation of a Realitism Films production in coproduction with CTB Film Group in association with Realitism Group, Boite Noire, Rubber Films and Arte/Cofniova 7. (International sales: Le Pacte, Paris.) Produced by Gregory Bernard, Josef Lieck, Diane Jassem. Co-producers, Sergei Selvanov, Daniel Goroshko. Executive producers, Sindika Dokolo, George Goldman

Crew:

Directed, written by Quentin Dupieux. Camera (color, HD, widescreen), Dupieux; editor, Dupieux; music, Mr. Oizo; production designer, Joan Le Boru; art director, Zach Bangma; sound, Zsolt Magyar; supervising sound editor/re-recording mixer, Will Files; associate producers, Filipe Vieira, Pierre Weisbein, Christine Ponelle; assistant director, Ian J. Putnam; casting, Donna Morong.

With:

Mark Burnham, Eric Judor, Steve Little, Marilyn Manson, Eric Wareheim, Grace Zabriskie, Arden Myrin, Ray Wise, Steve Howey, Daniel Quinn.

More Film

  • She Monkeys

    LevelK Boards International Sales to Lisa Aschan's 'Call Mom!' (EXCLUSIVE)

    LevelK has acquired international sales rights to Lisa Aschan’s new film “Call Mom!,” a sequel to the helmer’s critically acclaimed feature debut “She Monkeys” (pictured). Produced by Anna-Maria Kantarius (“Amateurs”) at Garagefilm Intl., “Call Mom!” follows Niki, a 35 year-old who lives like she’s 25 and is forced to come to grips with all of [...]

  • The Spokeswoman

    Mexico’s Luciana Kaplan on Indigenous Candidate Doc ‘The Spokeswoman’

    In 2017, Luciana Kaplan’s globe-spanning documentary feature “Rush Hour” was selected as the best in competition at that year’s Morelia Intl. Film Festival – only one of many such plaudits for the film – and the director returned to the festival Impulso section for pix-in-post with her next latest, “The Spokeswoman,” taking three of the [...]

  • Ella Balinska, Kristen Stewart and Naomi

    China Box Office: 'Charlie's Angels' Kept Earthbound by Local Romcom

    The new “Charlie’s Angels” reboot was no match for a local romantic comedy or a 20-year-old Giuseppe Tornatore film at the Chinese box office, bringing in just $7.6 million in its debut weekend, according to figures from consultancy Artisan Gateway. Directed by Elizabeth Banks and starring Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott and Ella Balinska, the film [...]

  • Climbing Blind

    ‘Climbing Blind’ Snares Kendal Mountain Festival Grand Prize

    KENDAL    “Climbing Blind,” from Alastair Lee, took the Grand Prize at the 2019 Kendal Mountain Festival on Saturday. Detailing the ascent of a vertical rock pillar, the film revealed how a blind mountaineer led the climb, assisted only by a sight-partner a rope length below. The film had particular significance for a British audience, [...]

  • Jon Voight'Maleficent: Mistress of Evil' film

    President Trump to Award Jon Voight the National Medal of Arts

    President Trump will present actor Jon Voight, musician Allison Krauss, and mystery writer James Patterson with the national medal of arts. Voight is one of few in Hollywood who has been vocal about his support of President Trump in the past, calling him “the greatest president of this century.” The White House announced four recipients [...]

  • Zack Snyder arrives at the 2018

    'Justice League': Gal Gadot, Ben Affleck, Zack Snyder Support Release of 'Snyder Cut'

    Zack Snyder, Gal Gadot, and Ben Affleck have taken to social media to request that Warner Bros. release the Snyder cut of “Justice League.” Snyder, who helmed “Man of Steel” and “Batman v Superman” and was “Justice League’s” original director, had to leave production on the film partway through after his daughter died, with Joss [...]

  • Whose Side Is 'Marriage Story' On?

    Whose Side Is 'Marriage Story' On? (Column)

    Do we choose sides when we watch “Marriage Story,” Noah Baumbach’s brilliant and wrenching drama of divorce? The question, on the face of it, sounds facile in a dozen ways the movie isn’t. Rarely are there winners in divorce, and there are two sides to every breakup. “Marriage Story” is a movie that reflects that [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content