Starring: Robert Ben Garant, Kerri Kenney, Thomas Lennon,
Niecy Nash, Mary Birdsong, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Patton Oswalt. Rated R.
911!: Miami is yet another spin on the venerable
Keystone Cops formula, in which bumbling police make grand, embarrassing
displays of their incompetence. That they succeed in accidentally thwarting the
bad guys is part of the joke. They may not be able to tie their shoelaces
without sparking a riot, but the cops in movies like Police Academy, Super
Troopers and Reno 911! always get their man.
Inspired by the long-running Comedy Central series created
by Robert Ben Garant, Kerri Kenney and Thomas Lennon, veterans of MTV’s The
State, Reno 911!: Miami is all but weightless. Held together ever so
slightly by a plot involving a Scarface-style druglord (Paul Rudd) and his accomplice,
the deputy mayor of Miami (Patton Oswalt), it is very much a skit stretched
thin over the course of 84 instantly forgettable minutes.
And yet it’s not without charm. Garant, Kenney and Lennon,
flanked by longtime colleagues Niecy Nash and Wendi McLendon-Covey, have
developed an easy chemistry over the years, and their interplay, at its
sharpest, is closer to the inspired silliness of Super Troopers than the
tired slapstick of Police Academy. Lennon, in particular, keeps the material
lively as Lt. Dangle, who makes no secret of his fondness for men and the
incredibly tight shorts that he wears because, he says, they allow him the
freedom to perform under pressure.
Not that there’s much pressure in his line of work. The
officers of the Reno police force don’t prevent crime so much as they witness
it, and while they’re right at home catching wild chickens on the lonely
highways of northern Nevada, they shy away from the tougher assignments, like
wrestling with alligators and coaxing beached whales back into the ocean.
They’re likable characters who freely acknowledge their inadequacies, and you
want to like the movie more because of them, but Reno 911!: Miami is too
uneven. (That the title is one of its cleverest gags in hardly a recommendation.)
After a strong opening sequence and the officers’ predictably untriumphant (but
noisy and lewd) arrival on the shores of South Beach, the inspiration ebbs and
flows until, at last, the troupe runs out of ideas entirely. In the end, what
happens is all so arbitrary that a call to 911 might be justified.