Sometimes it’s very difficult to tell if a film is trashy and brilliant and destined for cult fandom, or if instead the movie is misguided and not very good at all. Like his former films Rubber and Wrong, director Quentin Dupieux’s new film Wrong Cops has this quality.
This strange comedy has all of the good and bad of long form improv; it meanders without ever giving the viewer much of a punch line or payoff. In the end it feels as though the joke might just be on the viewer.
Wrong Cops is made up of loosely connected skits, and what little story there is follows Duke (Mark Burnham), a veteran cop and marijuana dealer, who is trying to get rid of the body of man he shot on accident. Duke’s trademark is that he uses dead rats as containers for his high-priced weed.
Duke comes into contact with Sunshine (Steve Little), a desk cop, family man and former gay porn star; Rough (Eric Judor), a one-eyed beat cop and musician; and the lazy and distracted Shirley (Arden Myrin) and Renato (Eric Wareheim).
Most of Wrong Cops just feels as though Dupieux forces random juxtapositions to an extreme to see what will happen. Many of these feel apparently forced and not very funny, such as Sunshine’s desperation to keep his porn career from his daughter or any time that Eric Wareheim is on screen.
The movie meanders, but perhaps Wrong Cops is a comedy for comedians, like the aristocrats joke. Perhaps the humor is not in the punch line (or lack thereof), but is all in the telling.
The cast, from Steve Little to Marilyn Manson to Ray Wise is packed with talent that has a penchant for the strange or awkward, and I can see how this film might be one where the experience of forcing it upon another could be hilarious and a whole lot of fun.
That said, I don’t think it has enough moments that illustrate Dupieux’s control or enough places that inform the viewer or make them a part of the joke. Wrong Cops is an interesting comedy experiment that will have a couple of people giggling occasionally and the rest of the audience scratching their heads.