Reno 911!: Miami Review
Imagine if the Broken Lizard troupe and the creators of South Park teamed up to make a Police Academy movie and they made it in the mockumentary style of Borat. That should give you some idea of what to expect from Reno 911!: Miami, a new Hollywood comedy that was given a half-hearted release here in the UK last Friday. It's a spin-off of a TV comedy show, Reno 911! from Comedy Central, the same cable channel that spawned South Park. I've never seen the programme but this movie has sold me at least the season one box set.
The idea is that we're watching a Cops-style reality TV show following the adventures of several deputies of the Reno County Sheriff's Department - Reno being the second biggest gambling resort in Nevada, after Las Vegas. These deputies, led by the closeted Lieutenant Dangle (Thomas Lennon, also co-writer), represent the most bizarre bunch of misfits to join the police since Commandant Lassard retired from the academy. At their morning briefing, Lieutenant Dangle has to gently remind them not to fire their guns inside the station.
After a few scenes introducing the squad, the movie's plot kicks in when the sheriff's department is invited to Miami for America's annual law enforcement convention. Shortly after arriving, as they're trying to sort out a booking problem, Dangle and his deputies discover that all the other delegates, including the entire Miami PD, have been struck down by biological terrorism. The convention centre is quarantined and the delegates from Reno are told they're the only active cops in Miami! They're responsible for policing the whole city and for bringing to justice the drug czar behind the terrorist attack (Paul Rudd).
Like the Broken Lizard films it most closely resembles (Super Troopers, Club Dread, Beerfest), Reno 911!: Miami has its roots firmly in early eighties comedy - not just Police Academy but Porky's, Caddyshack, Revenge Of The Nerds. The comedy is dumb, crude and very politically incorrect. There are loads of gay jokes and black jokes - none I think that anyone gay or black who has a sense of humour would find offensive but let the sensitive be warned! Bathroom and bedroom humour abounds; gratuitous bare breasts bounce across the screen; guns, violence and terrorism are treated as hilarious.
Underneath the rude veneer though, there's real wit, the kind Borat had. Anyone who's watched Cops or any similar US reality show will find this funny on an extra level. There's a constant supply of laughs, some of them very big indeed. A few well-known stars show up for cameo appearances and one of these, involving an actor known for his action films, is a hilarious show-stopper.
Scenes like that generate a lot of good will and so does the cast, a truly endearing bunch of clowns. Thomas Lennon emerges as a genuine comedy star and his co-writer and the film's director Ben Garant is perfect as a dim-witted stereotype Yank cop in mirror shades. A subplot featuring Wendi McLendon-Covey (a busty blonde deputy) and a tattoo had me in fits and I'm not even sure why. If you get the humour and you aren't put off by the crudeness or political incorrectness, this is a very easy film to like. It's the sort of little-known gem you might find yourself championing (the last comedy that had this effect on me was Eurotrip). I can easily understand why Reno 911! has picked up a cult following. I think I may be joining it.