There's nothing more painful to watch than bad improv. The schtick just lies there on the screen, sweaty and desperate -- and the fact that the footage even made it into the final cut makes one realize how dire the excised material must have been. It's both annoying and ironic to see a formerly funny TV series gets its big break on the silver screen -- and then trot out some of the lamest material imaginable. Basically, if Reno 911! Miami had been my very first introduction to the concept and characters, there's no way in hell you'd ever get me to sit down and watch the TV show.
Fortunately I am a big fan of the TV series (well, the first two seasons, anyway) so you can trust me when I tell you that Reno 911! Miami is nothing more than three D-minus episodes strung together, set in Florida, and packing the half-dozen F-bombs and naked boobs that the R rating requires. (Because, really, without the raunchy dialogue and a little nakedness, what would separate this movie from the TV series?) Perhaps it's just that the "goofy cops" routine has more than run its course by now -- or maybe it's just that the Reno 911! ensemble has simply run out of steam. Compare season one of the TV series to what's on display in this really terrible movie and you'll get a clear indication of what I'm talking about.
A film created exclusively for the "already fans," Reno 911! Miami hearkens back to comedy classics like Police Academy 5: Assignment Miami Beach, specifically in the areas of quality control, production value and chuckle quota. Basically, Reno's police force is really inept. That's one of the bigger jokes in the movie, so get used to it. Anyway, the squad is invited to a police convention in (you guessed it) Miami, but when terrorists attack the convention center and put 2,000 police officers out of commission -- guess who's enlisted for hero duty? Yep, Lieutenant Jim Dangle (Thomas Lennon), Deputy Trudy Weigel (Kerri Kenney), Deputy Travis Junior (Ben Garant) ... and the rest of the gang, most of whom are left to wander aimlessly while writer / producer / executive producer Lennon gives himself all of the
best gags screen time.
They're all gross and silly and horny and (of course) inept, so imagine the guffaws that arrive when these bumbling cops stumble across a crocodile, a car accident or a drug lord. Matter of fact, keep on imagining those giggles, because this flick wastes the talents of several amusing people, not only the old Reno troupe but also cameo faces like David Koechner, Paul Rudd and Paul Reubens. Somehow The Rock is involved in a desperately whiskered old gag, the punch line of which you can see coming eleven miles away.
What worked so well in the original season -- the Cops spoofery, the lightning-quick improv chemistry, the oddball criminals -- are almost entirely absent from the movie version. Not even the change of location makes any sense. They need to set it in Miami ... why? So we could get someone doing a really broad Tony Montana impersonation? So we could go visit a topless beach? Maybe it's meant to be wittily ironic, but taking an established series called "Reno" 911 and transplanting it to "Miami" is stupid at best and something akin to The Facts of Life Goes to Paris at worst. The whole thing feels like a lazy outtake reel.
The improv material is almost completely witless and lacking in energy, but things get even more painful when an orchestrated set-piece rears its ungainly head. A sequence with a dead whale is entirely worthless (despite being awash in bare breasts) and a lengthy sequence in which all the cops masturbate inside a hotel feels like bad dinner theater. The haphazard editing techniques might make sense in this sort of mockumentary-style comedy, but more often than not you can tell the snips are being used to cut around uncomfortable silences and failed banter. As far as the actual jokes go, I counted three different varieties: 1. Fart, poop, crotch, etc., 2. Male nudity / gay-bashing, 3. Ineptitude -- as in "Hey look, that cop accidentally blew up a truck with a rocket launcher. How amusing." The flick runs through endless permutations of this paltry material; by the time you reach the 45-minute mark your hand will start searching for a remote control that just isn't there -- because you're not at home; you just paid $9.00 for a really long and very lame episode of a show that used to be pretty funny, but has long since jumped the shark by this point.
Frankly I can't figure out why two separate movie studios (Fox and Paramount!) would even want to bankroll a concept this played-out, hollow and desperate. My guess is that with the screenplays for Taxi, The Pacifier, Herbie: Fully Loaded, Let's Go to Prison and Night at the Museum under their belts, Tom Lennon and Bob Garant had earned a "make any movie you want" card, and the saddest thing about the story is this: Reno 911! Miami is the movie they chose to make.
Bottom line from a guy who owns and still enjoys the early seasons of Reno 911! is this: The movie version is a junkpile, a 80-minute cash-grab that delivered three or four mild chuckles for my $8.50. As a rental or a weeknight cable flick, sure, but as an actual "movie" movie? Not even close.