Reno 911!: Miami (2005) / Comedy-Action

MPAA Rated: R for strong violence, sexuality, brief nudity, drug use, and language
Running time: 122 min.

Cast: Thomas Lennon, Niecy Nash, Kerri Kenney, Cedric Yarbrough, Carlos Alazraqui, Wendy McClendon-Covey, Mary Birdsong, Patton Oswalt, Paul Rudd, Nick Swardson, David Koechner, Danny DeVito (cameo), Michael Ian Black (cameo), Michael Showalter (cameo), Paul Reubens (cameo), Dwayne Johnson (cameo)
Director: Ben Garant
Screenplay: Robert Ben Garant, Thomas Lennon, Kerri Kenney-Silver (based on the television series)

Review published May 25, 2007

Fans of the TV series regularly appearing on "Comedy Central" already know what to expect from this feature-length film, showcasing more of the same parody of "COPS" as if starring the gang from the Police Academy movies. The motley crew of officers in the Reno Sheriff's Department are followed around, mockumentary style, trying to stop crime and squabbles amongst themselves, all the while making complete asses of themselves in the process. Though main story developments are scripted, the dialogue is mostly ad-libbed by the performers so as to give a more natural feel to the show.

Reno 911!: Miami basically plays like a longer, more raunchy episode of the show, with some additional budget allotted for more explosions, gunfire, and a few star appearances from actors like Paul Rudd (The OH in Ohio, The 40-Year-Old Virgin) and The Rock (Gridiron Gang). The plot, which is fairly thin, involves the Reno cops heading to Miami for a police convention, but several mishaps result in their group being separated from the rest of the cops. That's not altogether a bad thing, as the convention center ends up getting put under quarantine (a potentially fatal chemical attack, apparently), leaving the Reno force as the only law enforcement in town. The Reno cops do what they can to ensure law and order, while also trying to find out who is responsible for the terrorist act.

The movie takes full advantage of its new surroundings, including excursions to the beach, shootouts on yachts, and mingling in the party atmosphere that is Miami. This also allows plenty of skin to be shown by the cast while wearing their beach attire, and more than a few sexual dalliances as they stay in their seedy hotel.  While the TV show is a bit more subdued in terms of the crimes the officers must prevent, they up the deadliness of the criminal activities in Miami, perhaps to make the film seem more grand scale than its small-screen counterpart.  Fans of the TV series may like the familiar smaller moments, such as an attempt to get an ostensibly dead alligator out of a pool, than the larger chemical terrorism plan that serves as the main plot.

Just like most films based on improvisational performances, the laughs are scattershot, with some bits working better than the others. There is a recurring gag that has Paul Rudd doing his finest Tony Montana impression (it gets old quick), a scene where the cops try to remove a beached whale from the shoreline, and a couple of run-ins with oft-appearing supporting performer on the TV show, Nick Swardson (The Benchwarmers), as the flamboyantly gay Terry. The Rock makes a humorous appearance as a gung ho cop at the convention who gets a little too cocky in his demonstrations.

Fans of the show will probably get what they've paid to see, but for those uninitiated, it's sophomoric, cheap-looking, and only occasionally funny. It might appeal to those who like silly ensemble cop comedies like Super Troopers and the aforementioned Police Academy series (which, coincidentally, also had an entry where the squad goes to Miami). For more casual viewers, you could probably condense the good bits down to the run time of your typical "Reno 911!" TV episode, but at least the jokes are spaced well enough that it avoids falling into the comedy abyss with lengthy lulls. In terms of big screen improvisational comedies based on cable TV shows, it's not exactly Borat, but it's not exactly boring either.

Qwipster's rating:

2007 Vince Leo