Reno 911!: Miami’s plot undermines the comical cops-versus-freaks action



My wife hates it when I watch Cops. For some reason, she doesn’t agree that the sight of macho lawmen busting down doors and tackling white-trash meth-head wife beaters is the pinnacle of entertainment.

But we both love watching the Cops parody, Reno 911!, which revolves around the antics of an eight-member squad of lamebrained Nevada police officers. The funniest aspect of the Comedy Central series is the interaction between the delusional cops and the whacked-out characters they routinely deal with, like belligerent gay prostitute Terry (Nick Swardson, in a recurring role).

Unfortunately, the feature-length Reno 911!: Miami has an actual plot that keeps getting in the way of the comical cops-versus-freaks action.

During a routine briefing at the Reno sheriff’s department, hot-pants–wearing Lieut. Jim Dangle (cowriter Thomas Lennon) announces that he and his cracked team of deputies (played by Cedric Yarbrough, Niecy Nash, Mary Birdsong, Carlos Alazraqui, Wendi McLendon-Covey, cowriter Kerri Kenney, and fellow writer and director Ben Garant) have been asked to attend the National Police Convention in Miami Beach (“because they invited everybody!”). But when they arrive at the convention centre, the hapless cops are barred from entering, so they end up crashing at a sleazy hotel, getting drunk, and, for the most part, masturbating in plain sight.

It’s a good thing they got turned away from the convention, though, because the 2,000 cops who did make it in are put under quarantine after a bioterror attack. That’s where the distracting story line about a Scarface clone out to conquer Miami Beach kicks in. Since the Reno contingent is the only law-enforcement group not infected, it gets assigned to solve the case and also to field any emergency calls coming in at the high-tech Miami Beach headquarters.

Too bad one of them unplugs the incoming 911 line to make coffee.

As in the TV series, the funniest bits in the movie arise when Reno’s worst respond to calls and try to act like confident, in-control cops. The biggest laughs come when they’re dealing with a drunk who wants to check out a wayward crocodile; secondary chuckles arise when they try to dispose of a whale carcass on a topless beach.

Although the feature-length budget allows the nitwit cops to accidentally blow up cars with helicopter-launched rockets (“That was my bad”), Reno 911!: Miami loses most of its appeal as a takeoff on reality TV in the transition to the big screen. Wait for the DVD, ’cause you’ll get the most out of these subversive shenanigans if you view them right after a rerun of World’s Wildest Police Videos.

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