“Reno 911!: Miami” is positioned for fans of the Comedy Central show and nobody else. There’s a joy to that aesthetic, but the bargain basement production vales undercut the rip-roaring good time the material seems destined to become. Still, there are laughs. Loads of them if you’re in the know. Many television shows have made the impossible leap to the big screen, but rarely do you encounter one that barely offers anything new to the paying customer.
The Comedy Central program “Reno 911!” started life as a parody of “Cops,” the legendary Fox reality show about the horrors that face our nation’s law enforcement. Taken to the comical extreme, the show examined life in Reno through the eyes of the local ragtag police squad, led with overt homosexual energy from Lt. Jim Dangle (Thomas Lennon). Buffoonery ensues.
“Miami” orders the adventure across the country to Florida. When an invitation to a police convention arrives for the Reno squad, they jump at the chance to prove their mettle. Upon arrival, a toxic chemical is released in the convention center, leaving only the Reno officers in charge of protecting Miami. More buffoonery ensues.
Those conditioned to expect great things from a show-to-screen translation will find the grandeur missing in “Miami.” This new adventure for these lovable cops looks much like their old ones, only now the tropical locations offer them chances to try out thong swimsuits, encounter alligators, and deal with rancid beachside hotels. All this is captured with unusually iffy looking DV images and what looks like the same television budget they struggle to fill 20 minutes with every week, now stretched across 85.
The bottom line is this: the picture is always humorous, repeatedly funny, and sporadically hilarious. If you love Dangle and his Reno crew on the small screen, this R-rated upgrade of sorts will tickle you just as much, dumping in large amounts of nudity, sexual situations, and cursing to make the rating mean something.
In fact, the biggest laugh of the film is something that even cable wouldn’t touch: a literal symphony of masturbating cops during a drunken, lonely evening of misplaced advances. Now there’s something worth a matinee ticket.
Director Ben Garant (himself a co-star as Deputy Travis Junior) doesn’t always find the finest comedic target or precise editing rhythm, but “Miami” redeems itself with its fearless attitude toward throwaway jokes. This is a film of small treasures, and with an entire cast improvising their way through each scene, it’s a miracle anyone could make heads or tails out of the footage. “Miami” is a joke buffet rather than a motion picture, and truly, either you have the appetite for this material or you don’t; “Miami” isn’t out to convert anyone.
For the faithful, cameos by “State” performers (including David Wain and Thomas Ian Black) and comedian Nick Swardson (back again as roller-skating male prostitute Terry) are provided. Bigger fun comes from the star wattage sent to pump up the film’s hipster cache, including Patton Oswalt as the loser deputy mayor of Miami, and a showstopping turn by Paul Rudd as a Tony Montana-like drug lord who uses a weed wacker on those who betray him.
It looks terrible and has the production value of a snuff film. Hell, I’m not even sure it’s an actual movie. But “Miami” features a convincing amount of hilarity and just the right amount of smut to consider this lateral move to big screen a glorious success.Rating: B+