“Reno 911: Miami”
1 hour, 24 minutes
20th Century Fox
As I arise groggily after a night of Oscar revelry, I think back on the exciting, well-made films that were honored in the previous evening’s award show marathon. “The Departed” very good. “The Queen” excellent. “Little Miss Sunshine” provocative and heartwarming. “Letters from Iwo Jima” probably good, but who knows; heaven forbid a foreign language film come to our area.
As I bask in a glow of cinematic excellence, it occurs to me that there is one movie not mentioned on last night’s show. Hmmm... And then it all comes back in a rush. It isn’t a “Dreamgirls” or a “Pan’s Labyrinth” that I’m discussing today, no. It’s cinema of a different kind cinema of the raw, the unrehearsed, and the cheaply made. In other words, “Reno 911: Miami” cinema of the awful.
I will admit up front that there may be a legion of fans for this terrible waste of time that get something out of it that I didn’t. After all, with only four channels, I had never actually seen the moderately successful television show on Comedy Central that spawned the film. The only time I get cable is when I stay in a hotel somewhere, but I inevitably get caught up in a 6-hour marathon of VH1’s “Behind the Music” and fall asleep in my clothes. Which is good, because I can’t imagine that watching the trials and tribulations of the heady early days of REO Speedwagon can be any less amusing than the idiots over at “Reno.”
Apparently, the show is intended to be a spoof, of sorts, of the show COPS. In faux-documentary style, we follow the brave officers of the Reno Sheriff’s department as they go about their duties, mostly making a mess of things. Each officer has specific “amusing” characteristics. One is braying, one is busty. One is manly, one is gay.
As luck would have it, this ridiculously inept police force gets an invite to Miami to attend the National Police Officer’s Conference. Driving cross-country in a rented bus turns out to be the easy part, however there is a mix-up at registration leaving the group to find their own accommodations at a low-rent, seedy hotel. This turns out to be a blessing in disguise when, upon arriving the next morning, they find that all the attendees have been locked inside the Convention Center by a mad terrorist bioweapon plot, including the entire police force of Miami. You see where this is going.
What follows is a long string of bikini jokes, alligator encounters and bad Al Pacino impressions, as the Reno Sheriff’s Department attempts to clean up the mean streets of Florida’s biggest city. In the meantime, of course, they also have to figure out a way to rescue all of the actual cops, whose time is running out.
There were a few moments where I chuckled in spite of myself. But mostly what I remember was that the filmmakers seemed to be just as inept as the characters on screen. Maybe the filmmakers were the characters on screen. Poor directing the film doesn’t even seem to be able to hold to the simple mockumentary premise mixed with cheap film stock makes for a particularly bad-looking product. Worse though is the script, a word I use loosely, as it seemed the actors were literally making it up as they went along. Improvisation can be great, but it’s not easy. It’s a skill just like anything else, and these guys don’t have it.
I was surprised by the odd and varied cameos in a movie like this, Danny DeVito, The Rock and Paul Rudd, which makes me think this show must have a loyal fanbase of some kind. Can the television show actually be amusing? One thought is that the strictures of basic cable, while allowing them to be edgier than network TV, still allow for no nudity or language. This requires that, if you want to include a dirty joke, you’ve got to clever about it. The film is definitely R rated, and apparently clever went out the window along with the bikini top. I’m not necessarily opposed to raunchiness, but I am opposed to lameness, a quality which abounds in this film. Gross-outs and pointlessly explicit sexual humor cover this movie from top to bottom, fair warning to any parent who thinks, “Well, my kid watches the show, how bad can it be?”
Harsh though this review has been, I’ll stop short at giving this film the lowest possible grade. The premise, though poorly executed here, is kind of clever, and maybe, with a little encouragement, someone, someday will do it justice. Just not these guys. Grade: D-
“Reno 911: Miami” is rated R for crude humor, nudity, sexual situations, violence and language.
Chris Jenness is a freelance graphic designer, artist and movie buff who lives in Nikiski.
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