RENO 911!: MIAMI (Ben Garant, 2007)
Comedy Central COPS parody RENO 911! gets the movie treatment with RENO 911!: MIAMI. A police convention sends the bumbling officers of the Reno sheriff's department to the sunshine state. Lt. Jim Dangle's (Thomas Lennon) band of law enforcement outsiders are turned away at the conference registration table, but they are pressed into emergency service when a bioterrorist substance is released in the convention center. The Miami Beach police and all visiting officers must be sealed in the building until the threat can be identified and eradicated. That leaves Reno's finest to keep order.
In addition to responding to regular calls, the Reno cops deal with Ethan (Paul Rudd), a drug lord who patterns himself on Tony Montana. After a night of drunken revelry deputy Clementine Johnson (Wendy McLendon-Covey) searches for the man tattooed on her left breast. Deputy Trudy Wiegel (Kerri Kenney) hopes to romance Lt. Dangle despite signs that he prefers men in uniform.
RENO 911!: MIAMI isn't up to the task of replanting its sketch comedy roots in feature film territory. A rudimentary arc provides structure, but it's merely a means of propping up the feeble jokes for 84 minutes. It's not that plot is essential to this film. Why bother, though, when there's no commitment to the weak story set-up?
Nor does RENO 911!: MIAMI make an effective transition from TV to film. The primary difference is the insertion of language and nudity not permitted on basic cable. Director Ben Garant widens the scale somewhat. In a scene outside a cheap hotel, two tracking shots are stitched together in an attempt to pull off a big visual joke. The sequence goes on too long, and the technical qualities are too shaky to make it anything more than an ambitious failure.
Financial considerations shouldn't have any bearing on evaluating what shows up on screen, but it's apparent that the filmmakers had a limited budget and suffer for it. RENO 911!: MIAMI uses a helicopter as though it was being rented by the hour. The uncreative shooting of the yacht scenes from faraway gives the impression that the troupe was stealing shots on an unattended boat.
Of course, the sketch comedy nature, medium, and production costs wouldn't matter if RENO 911!: MIAMI were funnier. The main performers are known for quirkier work on THE STATE and VIVA VARIETY, but you wouldn't know it by the tepid, predictable humor throughout this film. RENO 911!: MIAMI'S punchlines are too easy to anticipate and finish scenes with a whimper rather than a bang. A semi-funny cameo with an action star plays out like poor improv. That quality bedevils the whole film.
RENO 911!: MIAMI is too safe and unremarkable to be a crime against comedy a la NORBIT, but anyone in search of a laugh feels robbed all the same.