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Reno 911!: Miami

Reviewed By Doug Bentin
Posted 03/26/07 10:48:34

"makes the Farrelly Brothers look like the Brothers Karamazov"
2 stars (Pretty Bad)

I know a man who is in most other ways perfectly sane but who insists that “Reno 911!” is one of the funniest shows on television. He votes for the right people, he has a steady job, and he thinks I’m a great film reviewer—rational attitudes, all—but he laughs at “Reno 911!” What can I say? I guess Bill Clinton thought Monica Lewinsky was pretty.

In case you’ve never seen it, “Reno 911!” began life as a parody of “Cops!” one of the earliest reality shows. The members of the Reno, NV, Sheriff’s Dept. are, as their leader says, “the stupidest people I’ve ever seen who weren’t legally retarded.” I won’t describe them. Just know that each has a quirk that defines him/her and gives the others a character trait off of which to play. Oh hell, two are gay, one has a fat butt, one is delusionally in love with one of the gays, one has big and barely harnessable boobs, one thinks he’s a ladies’ man, and two of them are not only too dumb to pour piss out of a boot, they’re dumb enough to put it in there in the first place. There. Now you know what you’re dealing with.

They all go to a police convention in Miami, where it turns out that a bioterrorist has infected every legitimate police officer, leaving our eight morons to control the city. In a series of blackout sketches, the entirety of which don’t add up to a plot, they deal with a beached whale, an alligator in a pool, an semi-amusing riff on “Scarface”—in which the nicknamed drug lord ‘s “l’il fren’” turns out to be a weed whacker—and the fact that none of them can drive in a straight line.

The picture is directed by Robert Ben Garant, who is one of the team, and written by Garant, Thomas Lennon and Kerri Kenney-Silver, who are also part of ensemble. Too much of the dialogue is improvised, improv being a tricky proposition in a full-length feature film. The rest of the gang is made up of Carlos Alazraqui, Mary Birdsong, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Niecy Nash (who also wasn’t particularly funny recently in “Codename: The Cleaner”), and Cedric Yarbrough.

Stuff like this is part of what we have to suffer through because of Monty Python’s popularity 30 years ago. Some of these comedy troops have been funny, but most haven’t. But then, the Pythons were smart and so were able to put a clever spin on old jokes and feeble concepts. The Reno gang brings everything down to the lowest level possible.

For instance, the bosomy one wakes up one morning with a face tattooed on her chest and spends as much time as she can the next day tracking down the tattoo parlor where the deed was done so she can find out who her dream man is. He turns out to be a nameless vagrant and she is terribly disappointed. So explain to me how making fun of the homeless is laughable?

Don’t be misled into thinking that large roles in this mess are assumed by cameo stars Danny DeVito and The Rock, both of whom never thought when they got into the movies that this is where their careers would be now. They just flash by with merciful brevity.

Yes, I did laugh. Twice. In 80 minutes. Hey, I’ve always been a sucker for dead alligator and weed whacker gags.

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