From its wasted cameos (Marilyn Manson as a moody high school outcast; Eric Roberts as a sleazy Hollywood insider) to its witless queer subplots, writer-director Quentin Dupieux’s Wrong Cops is a tedious exercise in self-consciously hip lowbrow comedy.
Focused on the shenanigans of a group of crude, corrupt, inept cops, it’s a wack riff on Reno 911. When weed-dealing policeman Duke (Mark Burnham), who sells his product camouflaged in the bodies of dead rats, almost kills a man, he recruits desk cop Sunshine (Steve Little) to dispose of the not-quite-dead body.
In debt to Duke for weed he’s bought on credit, Sunshine can’t say no — until he discovers a bag of money buried in his backyard, which allows him to pay off his debt. Unfortunately for Sunshine, his gay porn past catches up to him and makes him a blackmail target just as he slithers out of Duke’s grasp.
That’s the narrative spine of this limp endeavor, which tries (and horribly fails) to spin comedy from sexual harassment, the sight gag of a bearded transgender prostitute, and sub-par mimicry of Police Academy-style hijinks.
What made Reno 911 work was that it had empathy for its freaks and outcasts, no matter how loutish and clueless they were; it sprang from the place where they live. Dupieux (aka French electronic musician Mr. Oizo) approaches his lackluster material from an oily, snickering faux-outsider perspective, and rather than being funny, subversive or offensive, it’s just boring.