Premise: When the city’s worst cops are asked to run a simple errand for their Captain, they get mixed up with a dirty cop who’ll do anything to save her ass.
About: This spec sold earlier this year. It comes from the writing team of Jim Freeman, Brian Jarvis, and the actress/writer with the best name in show business, Fortune Feimster. Taking full advantage of the female-led comedy craze, the trio built their cop comedy around three female leads. The writing team has been making a name for themselves in television for years. This is their first big feature film.
Writers: Jim Freeman & Brian Jarvis & Fortune Feimster
Details: 105 pages
They’re calling it the death of the R-Rated Comedy.
With The House being dead at the craps table this weekend, and R-rated Baywatch tanking, and Rough Night, and Fist Fight, and Chips, Hollywood has officially announced that the R-rated comedy is dunzoes. It’s time to move back to lighter fare that carries the magical PG-13 rating which opens up films to a much bigger box office take anyway.
But is the R-rated comedy dead?? Is it?? Or were these simply five of the most unimaginative uninteresting ideas that could’ve possibly been dropped into the marketplace? Nobody wears a blue t-shirt to a Black Tie Event, do they? I have no idea what that means.
But what Hollywood’s really afraid of is the state of female-led comedy. That’s been their greenlight meal ticket for three years now. In a world where everyone loves to tell you ‘no,’ nobody wants the only surefire way left to get movies made closed down for good. You can’t take the baby out with the bathwater. I don’t know what that means either. At first glance, Bad Cop Bad Cop looks like it’s going to be the R-rated female-led comedy that SAVES THIS GENRE.
But is it? Is it?
28 year old Molly, a tough and pretty overweight cop, and her partner, 27 year old Devon, a jovial overweight cop, are both terrible cops. We meet the two in a parking lot as they walk past a car with a dog in it and all the windows rolled up. Determined to save the in-danger furball, Devon bashes the window open, scaring the dog, who runs to the other side. Molly bashes the other window open, sending the dog back to the first side, now in the front, forcing Devon to bash that window, and then Molly the other front window.
While the two are distracted by the arrival of the car’s owner, the dog jumps out of the sunroof and runs away, a sunroof that had been open the entire time.
Back at the precinct, their Liam Neeson like Captain reiterates to them that they’re the worst cops in America and that’s why they’re going to be on errand duty for the rest of their careers. In fact, he wants them to run an errand for him right now – go pick up his son from DJ College.
Meanwhile, we meet Frankie, a badass female cop who embodies everything the Captain wants a cop to be. Devon and Molly realize that if they could just be more like Frankie, they’d escape errand duty for good.
As fate would have it, they run into Frankie after picking up the Captain’s son. Frankie wants them to help her discipline a criminal, encouraging them to rough him up so he never breaks the law again. Molly and Devon think this feels an awful lot like harassment, but they really want to impress Frankie so they do everything they’re told (which includes making the man strip naked and shave off his pubes).
What they don’t know is that Frankie was recording the harassment on her dashcam, which she now uses to blackmail Devon and Molly into helping her take down a major drug dealer. You see, Frankie owes a gangster a quarter of a million dollars by the end of the day, and getting those drugs so she can sell them is the only way she comes out of this alive.
What Frankie will learn is that employing the WORST COPS EVER to get her out of this dilemma probably wasn’t the best idea.
Bad Cop Bad Cop isn’t bad. In fact, I think its two leads, Devon and Molly, are quite funny.
But it is plagued with a major problem.
It doesn’t know what its concept is.
At first I thought this was going to be about two terrible cops who try to get the job done and, against all odds, pull it off. Not the most original idea. But simple concepts like that, executed well, can work in comedy. That was basically the premise for The Other Guys.
Then Frankie is thrown into the mix and it becomes this sort of comedic Training Day but with women scenario. An innocent new female cop paired up with a dangerous veteran female cop who doesn’t play by the rules – I could see a movie in that. But things get confusing with it being the dirty cop paired up with our two bad cops.
So isn’t it then Bad Cop Bad Cop… Bad Cop?
Stuff like this may seem trivial to screenwriters but this is a big deal. Your concept in a comedy needs to be clear because 80% of the jokes will be based around that concept. Take a movie like Superbad. Two nerdy high school friends trying to get to a party in order to get laid. 80% of the jokes in that movie were built around the need to get to that party so our heroes could get laid. When the concept isn’t clear like that, it isn’t clear what kind of jokes you should write.
And that’s what this felt like. Our two dopey cops had their own brand of comedy going on. Then you had Frankie, who had her thing going on. And the two worlds just never came together.
Bad Cop Bad Cop is also a testament to how important it is to read screenplays. When you don’t read a lot, you don’t know what everyone else is writing. And if you don’t know what other people are writing, you’re likely to write the same things. Because we’re all drawing from the same continuous pop culture news cycle feed, which means that we’re mostly coming up with the same jokes and ideas. UNLESS you read a lot. When you read a lot, you say, “Oh, the last 3 scripts I read used a joke like this. Let’s come up with something else.”
I’ll give you an example. The Kosher Nostra, the comedy I just reviewed in the newsletter, had an Indian bad guy. This script also has an Indian bad guy. Now they’re used differently. And nobody has a monopoly on Indian bad guys. But the point is I read two comedies within one week that had Indian bad guys. When you know what’s out there, you can make a more informed decision. Often you’ll say, let’s dig deeper and find an option nobody else has used.
As for the rest of the script, the plot was shaky. Frankie is friends with the Captain. So it doesn’t make sense that Frankie kidnaps the Captain’s son during this whole ordeal. The son is clearly going to tell his father at the end of this what Frankie did, neutralizing the enormous amount of work she’s put into her plan.
I don’t get obsessed with plot holes in comedies. The genre is pretty forgiving when it comes to plot. But the glare of a plot hole becomes a lot brighter when it’s located smack dab in the center of the story. You’d rather have those plot cracks off to the side.
I believe the writers made a classic mistake. It’s one we talk about all the time. The premise is more complicated than it needs to be. If you kept this as Molly and Devon were supposed to pick up the Captain’s son only for bad guys to kidnap him, and they needed to find the son by the end of the day or they’d lose their jobs and badges forever, then in the process take down a major criminal organization and save the day – that’s all you need. Frankie was funny. But her arrival felt like a different movie. And it fractured a premise that should’ve been crystal clear.
[ ] What the hell did I just read?
[x] wasn’t for me
[ ] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius
What I learned: Re-writing common phrases is a great way to come up with a title for your comedy. Turning “Good Cop Bad Cop” into “Bad Cop Bad Cop” was a stroke of genius and was, honestly, the main reason I wanted to read the script. As a fun exercise, I encourage you to rewrite a common phrase to come up with an instantly awesome sounding comedy title. Upvote your favorites! Curious to see who comes up with the best title.