Story by Christina Montford
“Can this please be quoted?” Jake Johnson asks in all seriousness. “That in the scene where the Samoan has his balls in his face Damon Wayans, Jr. got an erection?” Crass, loud and hilarious, Johnson is joking about the climatic scene in his new movie Let’s be Cops where his costar, Wayans, is run down and pummeled by a very large, very naked Samoan man in a police cruise gone wrong.
The film follows best friends Justin Miller (Wayans) and Ryan O’Malley (Johnson) as they go from everyday slackers to pseudo-cops. A misinterpreted email and a reunion party from hell are all it takes for these two to abandon their failing careers and began posing as police officers.
“At their core, they are just guys who want to do something more than what they were doing,” says Johnson. “Which I think is something that, especially in your late twenties, early thirties, is very relatable. Some people have it figured all out but most people don’t. And these guys definitely didn’t, and they get themselves in way more trouble than I think they expected.”
The film’s relatability is what sets it apart from the dramatic, far-fetched tales that have been filling box offices in recent years. It feels like you know these characters. They are those guys from high school who were always goofing off and no matter how many times you lose touch, they keep you laughing at every reunion. “I feel like these two characters are very relatable guys,” Wayans explains. “[His] doesn’t really know what he wants to do for the rest of his life and mine is too scared to do anything with his life.”
Playing best buddies was no difficult feat for real life friends Wayans and Johnson. The two work together on Fox’s popular sitcom "New Girl" and have been itching to get together on other projects. “We got the script and then I had heard his name and so I just called him up and basically we kind of both said I’ll do the movie if you do the movie and at that point I didn’t care which character it was,” Johnson says. “I think there was a version where he was Ryan and I was going to be Justin but we just basically said as long as we are doing it together we will make it work and as the pieces fell I went to Ryan and he went to Justin.”
But it was important to each of the leading men not to portray their characters in ways they had previously done. Because of their familiarity with each other, making sure the friendship wasn’t portrayed exactly as it is on their other joint projects was critical. Both Johnson and Wayans both primarily accepted the job because they could see a fresh way to spin their characters.
“I think that’s a lot on the writing because they will give you characters and ideally put you in situations that are new and fun,” Johnson says. “I think the projects that actors say no to, or that I try to say no to are the ones where I see it and all I see are bits that I’ve already done and I don’t know how to put an interesting take to it. Hopefully you get there and it's built in differently and so you are just trying to play the reality of the scene and in doing so it puts you in a different space.”
“Every scene that we did we made sure to improvise a little bit and the writer of the movie really encouraged that,” Wayans added.
Their efforts at adding a fresh take to the traditional buddy film are definitely apparent in the finished product. The movie will make you laugh, cringe and then laugh again. It’s the perfect way to end the summer.
“Let's Be Cops” is out in theatres nationwide tomorrow, August 13.