You don't have to be a fan of Comedy Central's Reno 911! series to get most of the jokes, but if you haven't yet discovered the largely improvised and often-inspired cult spoof of Cops-style reality police shows, you're not the target audience for its uneven big-screen debut.
Reno's finest have come to Miami Beach to attend the annual American Police Convention, only to discover that there's no evidence of their ever having registered. Determined to make the best of the situation, they check into a seedy motel for the night and awake to find Miami's entire police force — and those of much of the rest of the country — quarantined because of a bioterrorist attack at the convention center. The only thing scarier than bioterrorism on home soil is the fact that the only cops left to police the entire city are Lt. Jim Dangle (Thomas Lennon) and his barely competent deputies: overly bootied Raineesha Williams (Niecy Nash); smooth ladies' man S. Jones (Cedric Yarbrough); nitwit Trudy Wiegel (Kerri Kenney-Silver); redneck boob Travis Junior (Robert Ben Garant, who also directed); no-nonsense buzz-cut Garcia (Carlos Alazraqui); trashy party girl Clementine Johnson (Wendi McLendon-Covey); and butch Cherisha Kimball (Mary Birdsong), a surprisingly decent cop who is not — repeat, not — a lesbian. Left to find an antidote to the bioweapon and answer every 911 call to the Miami Beach Sheriff's Department, Wiegel and Raineesha patrol the beach in their bathing suits, Kimball parties with a team of female basketball players, Clementine searches for the guy whose face graces a tit tat she picked up during a drunken night out on the town, and Junior and Jones are repeatedly kidnapped by a Tony Montana-type drug lord (Paul Rudd), whose preferred torture tool is a Weed Whacker. Gators and beached whales have replaced Reno's hookers and rogue chickens, but beneath the glitz and glamour, Miami Beach proves little different from "The Biggest Little City in the World."
Much the same can be said about this movie: The budget, props and breasts are bigger (and barer), and the celebrity cameos more numerous. But like the series, everything comes down to the dynamics among the players, some of whom have worked together in sketch comedy for close to 20 years. The film's longer running time means more dead spots and the more elaborate stunts demand tighter scripting and less room to improvise, which is a shame since improvisation is the Reno gang's real strength. Forgiving fans, however, won't care a whit.
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