The cops on Comedy Central's shameless, improv-based "Reno 911!" are certainly stupid in their local jurisdiction. But "Reno 911!: Miami" confirms that they'd be unsafe in any city -- and funny, too. The film is just a series of sketches crudely stapled, at the last minute, to a plot. But the outlandishness is still as amusing as it is on TV.
"Miami" brings to Florida the eight dim officers of the show's Reno sheriff's department, an unflappable troupe of whites, blacks, gays, and a Hispanic. The occasion is a national law enforcement convention, and they're barely in town a day when the city's 2,000 police officers are quarantined in an absurd bio terrorism episode, leaving it to the Reno gang to patrol the streets, coloring every distress call with their own situational incompetence.
A documentary film crew is on hand to record every gaffe -- the beached whale they blow up, the gator-bit corpse they leave in a swimming pool. But really, like the more conceptually audacious "Borat," the format is a conceit that justifies the movie's visual limitations. It also allows "Reno" the movie (like the TV show) to send up the action on "Cops."
The crimes, both petty and major, are fine. But the funniest thing about "Miami" is the hormones raging among this octet. Officer Williams (Niecy Nash) wants Deputy Jones (Cedric Yarb rough ), who wants Officer Clementine Johnson (Wendi McLendon-Covey ), who actually wants him, too. Deputies Garcia (Carlos Alazraqui ) and Junior (Robert Ben Garant ) want whatever women will have them. And poor Lieutenant Dangle (Thomas Lennon ), in his tragic after-hours denim cutoffs (the pockets droop below the fraying hemline), can't find a man, and has to fend off the desperate advances of Officer Wiegel (Kerry Kenney-Silver), who seems too dense to care that Dangle is gay.
All this lust culminates in a nicely observed long take in which all eight try to score at their fleabag motel before bed. It's like an extremely sexually frustrated episode of "The Real World" or "Melrose Place."
The Miami beachfront offers a chance to mock Hollywood blockbusters as well as "Baywatch." Officer Williams's stupendously buxom figure, for instance, sets a new, museum-quality standard for proudly pear-shaped women. It helps to imagine that Claes Oldenburg made the pear.
What's refreshing about both the movie and the series is how the women in the cast are meaningfully in on the jokes. Kenney-Silver wrote "Miami" with Lennon and Garant, who also directed. (They were members of the old sketch-comedy outfit "The State," which was on MTV for a couple of years in the early 1990s.)
The storyline they dream up strains to redeem these cops in the eyes of their contemptuous peers. (It doesn't work .) Still, to that end, there's a plot to be foiled involving the Cuban drug lord (Paul Rudd) who has the bio terrorism antidote and on one occasion tortures a victim with a Weed Whacker.
This low-rent, nonsense cop business filled me with a nostalgic twinge. I didn't know I wanted the "Police Academy" series resurrected with a lot more hilarity, but I'm glad somebody did it.