Reno 911!: Miami (United States, 2007)

A movie review by James Berardinelli

Reno 911!: Miami represents an argument against taking 22-minute TV comedy shows and expanding them to 80-minute feature films. Something that entertains over a short period when watched from the vantage point of a couch or a recliner does not necessarily offer a comparably enjoyable experience when expanded and lengthened. It can be done - see South Park and Monty Python for counter-examples - but those are not the norms. As a TV show, Reno 911! is diverting and amusing; as a motion picture, it's overlong and wears out its welcome. The film offers some solid laughs, but not enough to justify sitting through 80 minutes of the faux cops' antics.

Devotees of the TV show, however, will probably not be disappointed. The same creative team is in place and the TV actors all make the jump to the big screen. Although the COPS mockumentary approach has been abandoned, there's still the sense that a camera is trailing the characters because of the number of hand-held shots (this voyeuristic style leads to one of the movie's biggest laughs). The R rating has allowed Reno 911!: Miami to get lewd, crude, and nude. The profanity flows freely and one sequence involving the removal of a dead beached whale takes place on a topless beach. Also, as with the TV show, a lot of the dialogue is undoubtedly improvised.

The thin premise underlying the movie is that the Reno 911! Cops - Lt. Jim Dangle (Thomas Lennon), Deputy Travis Junior (Robert Ben Garant), Deputy Raineesha Williams (Niecy Nash), Deputy Cherisha Kimball (Mary Birdsong), Deputy Trudy Wiegel (Kerri Kenny-Silver), Deputy Clementine Johnson (Wendi McLendon-Covey), Deputy James Garcia (Carlos Alazraqui), and Deputy S. Jones (Cedric Yarborough) - travel to a Law Enforcement Convention in Miami. When a bioterrorist attack traps all the other cops inside the convention center, it's up to the incompetent eight to fight crime on the streets and beaches of Miami. In addition to dealing with the aforementioned beached whale, they must cope with a Scarface-like bad guy (Paul Rudd), handle an alligator in a backyard pool, and figure out whose portrait is tattooed on Deputy Johnson's breast.

The popularity of the television series (which averages nearly one million viewers for each new episode) has allowed the filmmakers to pull in a few well-known faces for cameos. Paul Rudd does his best bad Al Pacino impersonation. Danny DeVito and Paul Reubens show their faces. And, most memorably, The Rock strides into the middle of the movie lampooning a badass super-cop. The bulk of the screen time, however, belongs to the primary cast members of the show who flawlessly re-create their small screen alter egos. These actors have worked together for a long time, many of them having appeared on the MTV sketch comedy show The State in the mid-1990s, nearly a decade before starting Reno 911! on Comedy Central. They're comfortable with each other and it shows.

When a joke in Reno 911!: Miami works, it's usually hilarious, and a lot of the funniest moments are on the gross and/or crude side (what some have termed as "college humor"). The problem is that the ratio of successful jokes to running length isn't very good (about one per 10 minutes), and there are a lot of duds strewn along the way. There's something dispiriting about watching a comedy where there are many more misses than hits; maybe it's a result of expecting too much. Even taking into account the subjective nature of comedy, it's clear that the Reno 911! format cannot offer the same kind of viewing experience when bloated for movie theaters. Its limitations and weaknesses are magnified while its strengths are diminished. Reno 911!: Miami is recommended only for die-hard fans of the TV show. Others are advised to wait until this is available in a smaller format.

Reno 911!: Miami (United States, 2007)

Run Time: 1:20
U.S. Release Date: 2007-02-23
MPAA Rating: "R" (Profanity, Sexual Situations, Nudity, Violence)
Subtitles: none
Theatrical Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1