Gone is that whistling conversationalist, and in his place? A variety of mustachioed gentlemen and ladies, too encumbered with petty drug offenses to make friends and so amped on lattes that the slightest provocation could warrant a lethal response.
Perhaps there is no better example of this contemporary disarray than the comedy central series “Reno 911!” a spoof of the “COPS” reality show, that portrays the protectors of the “Biggest Little City” as silly, incompetent, narcissistic, sex-driven losers.
After a few years of success on basic cable juggernaut Comedy Central, Twentieth Century Fox (the studio behind the similarly documentary-ish Borat ) decided to give the show an opportunity on the big screen. The result is the moronically named and hilariously conceived Reno 911!: Miami .
The show and the movie are the brainchildren of Thomas Lennon, who plays the tiny shorts-wearing Lieutenant Dangle, Ben Garant, who is the trailer-bred, kevlar vest-sporting Deputy Travis “T” Junior and Kerri Kenney-Silver, who infuses a bizarrely contagious streak of humor into Deputy Trudy Wiegel.
Although you wouldn't know it from their dunderheaded onscreen personas, Lennon and Garant have put together a rather substantial body of work together. First, the duo created, acted and wrote for the '90's MTV sketch comedy show “The State.” Then, they did the same with a second show, this time on Comedy Central, called “Viva Variety.”
“Reno 911!” has been on the air since 2003, and since, the two have also co-written (and sometimes in Garant's case, directed) a number of successful movies, including Herbie Fully Loaded , The Pacifier and the recent holiday hit Night at the Museum . Incompetent and idiotic as their “Reno” characters may be, the two are pretty damn accomplished.
None of this background information is at all mentioned or even alluded to at the Reno 911!: Miami press conference. Instead, there are nothing but pearls of fake-cop wisdom snatched like crack from a perp's back pocket.
No questions are answered directly. Instead, the whole cast is uniformed and in character – short shorts, cleavage and all – proving there is no better way to learn about the rigors of modern-day law enforcement than from a diverse group of highly skilled improv comedians pretending to be cops.
At the beginning of the press conference, Lt. Dangle (Lennon) makes clear that the somewhat ridiculous events that occur onscreen in no way reflect the work the (fake) department actually does.
He states, “I would like to say before we get going, we feel like we have been grossly misrepresented by the Fox people. We're not robots, made of wires and chips. A solid 30 percent of the time we're giving 100 percent ... you're not seeing that, what you're seeing is boobery, incompetence and the times that we accidentally blow something up.”
But how exactly did the (again imaginary) filmmakers manipulate what occurred? Dangle has an answer for that too: “What they do is they take all the footage, hand it over to [actual producer] Danny DeVito, he's drunk on limoncellp, and he cobbles it together into a menagerie. I know that menagerie was not the word I'm looking for, but I'm going to keep going with it.”
Deputy Junior (Garant) has a slightly subtler take on how these documentarians (again imaginary since he wrote and directed the film) disservice reality.
He matter-of-factly remarks, “If the camera followed you 24-7, you wake up, rub one out, go to work, make a deuce, go back to work and go to bed. If they cut out the part where you go to work, you look like a real heavy shittin', horny retard. Think about that. We don't like the cameras pointed our way.”
Of course the officers are also willing to discuss the nuances of cop life, not just how it is represented, and Dangle is quick to point out the importance of the mustache to the modern citizen on patrol.
“A mustache is like finding your spirit name, basically you go on a walkabout,” he says. Junior adds. “Your mustache finds you, and you either go into law enforcement or softcore pornography.”
With regard to any pressure that he might feel given the gigantic success of Borat in the theaters, Dangle seems to think it is no different from the everyday stresses of life as an officer. He says, “We're under constant pressure, what you call box office pressure – B.O. pressure – when you're facing death every 45 seconds, your adrenaline is up and you're basically working with an erection of terror.”
Deputy Wiegel chimes in with her special cure for the daily grind: “I take a handful of Prozac in the morning, and in the afternoon I level it out with a couple of Lexapro and a Depecol or two.” That last drug might be made up, but that's beside the point.
Then, of course, there is the question of the competing show “COPS,” a show not so unlike “Reno: 911!” but one that Dangle considers a big lie. Accordingly he thinks “that show is crap. If you watch ‘COPS,' and you watch ‘CSI,' ‘CSI:Miami' and ‘CSI:NY,' you would think that you go out, you get clues and then you catch who did it. Bullshit! If you commit a murder in America, [there's a] 50-50 chance we‘ll never find out about it.”
Finally, we arrive at the topic of interoffice dating. Dangle points out that it's unacceptable, and that there are clear rules against it. Addressing Dangle, Wiegel retorts, “We actually have our own rule called a restraining order.”
So cops today ain't what they used to be, as the stumbling dupes of Reno 911!: Miami make perfectly clear. Junior sums up the relationships of the officers playing on an old adage: “Familiarity breeds restraining orders, sometimes it breeds Hepatitis C.” So yes, we're screwed, but with movies like this, at least we're entertained.
Reno 911!: Miami releases in theaters Feb. 23.