Our culture may be ripe for satire, but in film that genre has all but died. Such incisive commentary seems to be the aim of “Reno 911: Miami,” but it certainly isn’t the film’s effect. If this is an example of social satire, then masturbation is simply a more gentle version of sex.

Jessica Boullion
The photo might be funnier than the movie. (Courtesy of 20th Century Fox)

The film is one long, stale joke.

It’s easy enough to follow: Eight dumb-ass cops from Reno struggle to find acceptance in Miami. Or rather, the Reno cops go to a police convention in Miami only to find themselves excluded. But when their ensuing Spring Break-esque antics shield them from a viral epidemic let loose at the convention, they’re the only law enforcement left. Homeland security immediately assembles a response, but the local government collapses and the police are helpless and irrelevant. The jokes are there for the picking.

Too bad so little is satirized. A film that so readily mocks government protocol ought to have the nerve to say something bold about the current state of affairs. When an FBI man in charge of cleanup at a major disaster blows himself up with his own grenade, you’d think that the movie was trying to say something.

No. It’s only interesting that the guy was The Rock in a cameo.

The film resorts to hackneyed “Scarface” and “Miami Vice” jokes, never brave enough to push the limits of social commentary. But that’s all right, I guess.

The film, based on the cult hit Comedy Central show “Reno 911,” keeps its lowbrow, boys-club feel intact. The eight misfits are as obnoxious and misinformed as ever. Officer Travis Junior (Robert Ben Garant, “The State”) is brave and reckless with the material, but evokes little understanding. The film shows cops as dumb and mean. Everyone gets that. But what makes them so awful? This is where the film fails to make any statements worth making.

The only real thrills of the movie come from jokes recycled from the show, and even more noticeably, the trailer. “Reno 911: Miami” is a poor man’s “Borat,” full of easy gay jokes, black jokes and leftover ’80s jokes – never smart, clever or creative ones.

The bureaucratic establishments of this country are long overdue for some creative scrutiny. With privacy slowly evaporating, paranoid endangerment growing and so much happening that baffles us every day, where are our great social commentators? Yes, Jon Stewart tries, but that’s not enough. What happened to our Emersons, Fassbinders and Milos Formans?

When Forman made “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and “The Fireman’s Ball,” he wasn’t just making broad comedy. Forman took harsh jabs at the establishments of the time, questioning authority while entertaining audiences, too. Though it was 1960s Czechoslovakia, it was a bold feat that still inspires filmmakers and pundits alike.

In that light, the film is actually kind of depressing. In any case, the lesson here is clear: Keep these boys on television. They don’t crack nearly as many laughs in the theater.


Reno 911: Miami
At Quality 16 and Showcase
20th Century Fox

Rating: 1 1/2 out of 5 stars

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