A Very Poorly Timed Cop Movie Is Killing It On Streaming

The 2014 comedy Let's Be Cops is in the top ten movies streamed on HBO Max.

By Matthew Creith | Published

According to FlixPatrol, a website that tracks all content on streaming service platforms like Netflix and Hulu, 2014’s Let’s Be Cops is currently trending within the top ten on HBO Max. It is a film that was released in theaters at a time of great unrest in the United States, premiering on August 13, 2014, just four days after the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri that left the teenager dead at the hands of police officer Darren Wilson. The film’s release may have been ill-timed due to circumstances beyond 20th Century Fox’s control, but the negative reviews and media criticism did not seem to hinder the success the cop movie enjoyed at the box office.

Let’s Be Cops stars Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans Jr. of New Girl fame as two longtime friends struggling in their chosen occupations, striving to make their 30s better financially than their 20s. They decide to wear police officer uniforms to a costume party and instantly become the talk of their neighborhood, but find themselves at the center of a real-life mobster tale. What starts out as a simple premise transitions into a buddy cop movie for the ages, even if the two friends aren’t even actual police officers.

As part of the buddy cop movie genre, Let’s Be Cops stars an ensemble group of acting comedians, including The Vampire Diaries actor Nina Dobrev, 21 Jump Streets’s Rob Riggle, Marvel Cinematic Universe staple James D’Arcy, Andy Garcia, and Key & Peele’s Keegan-Michael Key. Critics and audiences were not impressed with the film upon its release, with Rotten Tomatoes currently ranking Let’s Be Cops with an abysmal 18% on its Tomatometer based on 83 critic’s reviews, as well as a 51% Audience Score based on over 50,000 verified ratings from users to the site. Similarly, Metacritic currently ranks the movie with a Metascore of 30 based on 23 critics’ reviews, which typically denotes generally unfavorable reviews from reputable film critics.

cop movie
Damon Wayans Jr. and Jake Johnson in Let’s Be Cops (2014)

Despite Let’s Be Cops failing with critics and audiences in terms of their reviews of the buddy cop movie, the project still did well financially for its distributor 20th Century Fox. Let’s Be Cops eventually grossed over $138 million at the box office against a budget of $17 million, making the film a success as it competed with larger blockbuster franchise films released in theaters around the same time like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with Megan Fox and Will Arnett, as well as Guardians of the Galaxy, starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista and Vin Diesel. The movie earned an R rating in the United States prior to its release, and was filmed on location in Atlanta, Georgia with some filming taking place in Charleston, South Carolina.

No matter how successful Let’s Be Cops was at the box office, the buddy cop movie was affected in some ways by ongoing protests to the fatal shooting of a Black man named Michael Brown in the suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri. While not directly connected to the police involved shooting, the movie suffered from its premise of two friends pretending to be police officers to take down an evil presence in their neighborhood, a concept that likely didn’t sit well with audiences at a time when police officers were not seen by some communities as friendly. Eight years later, the relationship between law enforcement officials and the general public is still tense in some areas of the United States, and Let’s Be Cops star Damon Wayans Jr. has ruled out a sequel to the movie for the time being until police brutality is addressed in real-life, according to MadameNoire.

While Let’s Be Cops was a financial success at the box office and received poor reviews from critics and audiences alike, the juxtaposition the film found itself in as real-life events occurred simultaneously with it’s rollout attempts hasn’t tampered with renewed interest. The buddy cop premise of the film is a time-tested genre that includes hit franchises like the Lethal Weapon film series starring controversial actor Mel Gibson and Danny Glover, and viewers are often looking for movies they haven’t watched before that could possibly be available on streaming for home viewing. Let’s Be Cops is currently available to stream on HBO Max and continues to climb the streaming charts.