It's difficult to review Wrong Cops in a traditional sense, because it is so nontraditional in every way, including how it was presented at Sundance this year. What was shown was in a sense a work in progress. Wrong Cops started as a spin off from director Quentin Dupieux's previous film, Wrong. However, unlike Wrong, Wrong Cops was made in chapters. These both stand alone and work together to create a singular feature film. The first chapter was shot over a year ago. After a warm reception from the fans, Dupieux brought the cast and crew together again over the summer to shoot the remaining chapters. The Sundance screening was made up of just the first three segments, with several more on their way this spring.
Wrong Cops takes place in a utopian/dystopian future in which the police force in Los Angeles has eradicated all of the crime. That would be the Utopia of lore. However, things have become dystopian, as they do, once the police officers got bored, restless, and angry. They have started to abuse their power in increasingly absurd and obscene ways.
Each chapter focuses on a different misadventure of this motley crew of cops. The main plot follows our anti-hero, Duke (Mark Burnham), as he harasses a teenager played by Marilyn Manson, accidentally shoots his neighbor, and worse. Rounding out the ensemble of the police force are Steve Little (Eastbound & Down, The Catechism Cataclysm), Arden Myrin (MADtv) and Eric Wareheim (Tim and Eric Awesome Show). With a cast as hilarious and talented as this, there are no missed opportunities for a laugh. If the answer is "yes" to the question, "Would this scene be funnier if Duke wasn't wearing any pants?" then you can be sure you'll be seeing some dirty tighty-whities.
From a director known for Rubber, a movie about a killer tire, one would expect nothing less than the random absurdity, off-color humor, and farce that Wrong Cops is full of. This is a film to be experienced, not explained. With Dupieux's run and gun shooting style, collaborative work with the actors, minimal lighting and production value, self-produced music and jumpy editing, Wrong Cops pushes the envelope of expectations of what a movie is and how it came to be. The lines of reality, scripting, improvisation and production technique are blurred to the point where you have to stop trying to fit this work into the conventional and instead, let it happen before your eyes.
Wrong Cops certainly has a sense of humor that isn't for anyone. If you like the exploitation films of the 70's and 80's, the abstract ridiculousness of Tim and Eric and Monte Python, the violence of grind-house cinema and the homespun stylings of web series and Funny or Die sketches, then you are primed and ready to love Wrong Cops. If Family Circus is your favorite comic, then you should steer clear.