Review: Quentin Dupieux's WRONG COPS Are The Right Cops
Like the Oizo beats that make up the soundtrack, it pulses with the life force of humanity's birthplace. Those primal urges that shape the evolution of mankind: the struggle to survive, the need to create, looking at breasts.
Dupieux's latest oddity has had an interesting journey to the screen. It started out as a series of vignettes, the first of which received a quiet debut at the Cannes Film Festival in 2012. Chapter one features Mark Burnham as Duke, a dirty, weed dealing cop, and Marilyn Manson as David Delores Frank, who is NOT a street hooker, because prostitution is wrong. The two have a disagreement over what constitutes good music. Hilarity ensues. It is 14 minutes that leaves you wanting more.
Almost a year later, chapters one through three graced the snowy peaks of Sundance. Chapter two features Steve Little of Eastbound and Down fame as Sunshine, a desk cop who agrees to dispose of a not-quite-dead body to pay off his drug debt. Chapter three features Arden Myrin (Mad TV) and Eric Wareheim (Tim & Eric), and involves blackmail, gay porn, and the viewing of breasts. ScreenAnarchy's Alex Koehne called this 45 minute version "wonderfully weird and wacky." (Read the full review HERE.)
Still, this wasn't the finished product. On December 20th, the feature length version of Wrong Cops was released on VOD, iTunes, etc. It also received a blink-and-you'll-miss-it theatrical release in New York (midnight and 11AM screenings only). It opened in LA on the 27th, and a bunch of other cities will follow suit throughout the month of January. This version of the film is a whole different b(r)east. Dupieux has done away with the chapter structure, intercutting the storylines and adding approximately 45 minutes of additional footage. Do the math, Chuckles, that's 100% more movie!
That's all well and good, but how does it taste? Wrong Cops is absurd, but it's not necessarily Absurdist, like the director's previous efforts. It lacks the meta, fourth wall antics of Rubber and the Dadaist leanings of Wrong. Some reviewers have branded it pointless, but I prefer to look at it as a meditation on the subjectivity of art, and, by extension, the subjectivity of human existence. Why are we here? Are we even alive? And what happens next?
But if you want to enjoy it superficially, that's okay, too. Wrong Cops has a great cast, a mix of comedic favorites, Dupieux regulars, and seasoned character actors. Ray Wise. Grace Zabriskie. Eric fucking Roberts! Not least of these is Mark Burnham, who, according to his own bio, is "a leading man in the classic spirits of Sterling Hayden, Jack Palance, Ralph Meeker, Bruce Dern and Jack Nicholson." Burnham is fantastic as Duke, an imposing character who made the briefest of appearances in Wrong, but demanded his own time to shine. I could watch him treat people like shit all day.
So if you appreciate gonzo humor with an underlying existentialist pretension, this is the movie for you. If you're still not sure, just watch the trailer below. If you think the trailer is funny, you'll probably like the movie. Dupieux is a talented director, but he's not for everyone. Nothing this good ever is. If you think Judd Apatow is the pinnacle of comedy genius... just go away.
I'll close out this review with a Dupieux-esque anecdote. There were less than 10 people at the 11AM Christmas Eve screening I took in with my lady friend. Three of those people were actress Arden Myrin and (who I assume were) her parents. They were laughing it up like nobody's business. Later that day, a squirrel touched my hand in the park. He reminded me that I had to write a review.
A REVIEW ABOUT WHAT?!?!
Wrong Cops is available now in the U.S. on iTunes and VOD. It is currently playing theatrically in Los Angeles, with other cities to follow.