By: Addison Wylie
Wrong Cops is from the mind of writer/director Quentin Dupieux, who found love from Midnight Madness audiences with his films Rubber and Wrong. That same crowd may find themselves straining through forced smiles when they set eyes on Wrong Cops.
Wrong Cops is the type of film you shoot during breaks on the sets of music videos. I guess instead of taking advantage of his per diem and down time, Dupieux rounded up equally bored actors, borrowed some police uniforms, and slapped together….this.
How do you describe Wrong Cops? The whole film looks as if the cinematographer spit on the lens, and tried wiping the loogie off with their sleeve. A better question would be: how critical does the director’s delirium have to be to believe Wrong Cops was a good idea in any context? Obviously, its creator is on a vastly different wavelength than other filmmakers. This sort of go-for-broke attitude is perhaps what gained the Dupieux fame on the cult circuit, but when does ambition cross into crass stupidity? Dupieux doesn’t know. If he keeps this up, he’ll be even more oblivious.
Wrong Cops is humiliating for everyone involved and for those watching the movie. It’s an ungainly comedy made up of weird set-ups that couldn’t even stay afloat in a commercial for Mountain Dew or Old Spice. There’s hardly a central focus except for a half-baked story involving the disposal of a dying man. Otherwise, the film is more interested in showing its audience cracked-out behaviour without any justification. Characters do nasty things because they do nasty things – period.
Every so often, the film offers a subplot that teases with potential. Officer Duke (played by Mark Burnham) stuffs marijuana in dead rats and sells to teens. The dead rats are necessary because they don’t draw attention according to the crooked cop. Duke wigs out when his dead rat dealer offers dead fish as a substitute. I laughed at that.
There’s also a side story featuring one-eyed Officer Rough (played by Eric Judor) who has an obsession and passion for making techno music. No one really likes it, except for that dying man. The two team up and try selling the track to a hot shot producer. This would have been a great time to skewer the current age of robotic remixes – especially since Rough’s music sounds like a gassy synthesizer.
But, no. Since Officer Rough wears an eyepatch, Dupieux will focus on that. Officer Duke makes funny faces when he’s angry and swears, so Dupieux will fixate on that. If I was starring in Wrong Cops, I would become so self-conscious about my looks since the filmmaker seems to take pride in milking unusual physicality for chuckles.
Wrong Cops doesn’t bother to look past face value. The filmmaker will offer something that could be funny, and decline to go any further. How else do you explain Marilyn Manson’s involvement? Controversial musician Manson plays a clean-cut teenager in Wrong Cops, and the joke stops there. Just like every joke in Wrong Cops, it’s a set-up stuck in preliminary concept stages.
Comedy of the absurd may be off-the-wall, but there’s still a rhyme and reason to it. Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim have found a method to the madness with their surreal TV show Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!; they frame their brand of awkward humour within the bounds of a naive cable access show. Wareheim, who sports an unfunny role in Wrong Cops as a sexual deviant who holds women at gunpoint and demand they expose their breasts, must’ve been biting his tongue between takes.