Reviewed By Collin Souter
Posted 09/30/03 23:21:24

"These amusing Swedes tell us nothing we didn't already know"
3 stars (Average)

(SCREENED AT THE 2003 CHICAGO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL) Quick, name your top five favorite Swedish comedies! Oh, come on, surely you have one or two that come off the top of your head, right? What about that one with the doughy guy and…he gets in trouble…and stuff? Okay, I don’t know what movie I’m talking about. I made it up. The truth is I can’t think of any either. I just haven’t been around that much, I guess. Considering I am part Swedish, I have to say I am mightily disappointed with my nationality’s alma mater and their inability to create long-lasting comedic art. A consistent disappointment, the Swedes haven’t exactly been showing signs of life on the pop culture radar…until now!

Josef Fares’ lighthearted comedy “Kops” may not be the cinematic jump-start that will put the Swedes on the map for pratfalls, parodies and put-ons, but it’s not a terrible start either. Part small-town eccentric comedy, part satire of American influences, “Kops” tells a simple story while also wanting to call attention to how silly American movies look to simple Euro folk. As if we didn’t know, right? We know we go over the top, we know we have become obsessed with trying to top last summer’s big explosions and we know we have a tendency to solve our problems with violence. Seriously, Sweden, if you had the toys, you’d do it too.

“Kops” tells the story of a small group of police officers in a sleepy town called Hogbodorna where a kicked over garbage can serves as a logical catalyst for a serious crime scene investigation. The town simply doesn’t have enough crime to go around. Bureaucrats will soon shut down the departments due to its low crime rate statistics. The small group gets it into their heads that perhaps if they invent crimes, they can try to impress the inspectors by solving them with great bravado.

The police characters are a slight, likable bunch: We have Jacob, a man who can’t figure out why he stays in this town when there is so little for him to do (he’s also a bachelor). Benny is a cob obsessed with American action movies and actually speaks the English from them when he works his beat, even though at heart he shares a kinship with Martha Stewart. The married cops bicker and argue over saying “I love you,” but the whole team works like family. They drive, they eat at the waffle hot dog stand, they drive some more and eventually meet back at the station to play cards.

Once their fake crime wave kicks into gear, “Kops” turns into a one-joke comedy that gets old pretty quick. Only when the movie parodies the ridiculous action sequences of American cinema does it earn huge laughs. The rest of the movie follows a familiar path. Would it surprise you to know that the chief inspector of this town happens to be an attractive single woman? Would it surprise you that Benny, while being the main instigator of many of the fake situations, also happens to be the main foil? Probably not, but it’s only because we’ve been making this movie (as have the English and the Irish) for the past several decades.

Still, “Kops” can be quite likable and director Josef Fares shows promise. The movie would probably do very well in a country not used to this kind of comedy and I hope Sweden makes more that have more originality and style. It’s nice to know they’re keeping an eye on us and taking copious notes, even for the sake of making fun of us. They do it well and the movie’s final pay-off works beautifully, but I look forward to the day I can make a Top 5 list of favorite Swedish comedies and “Kops” is nowhere to be found (Right now, it’s #1).

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