Never having seen "Reno 911" on TV, I really had no idea what to expect from "Reno 911!: Miami," the full-length theatrical version of the Comedy Channel cult favorite. I figured that the movie would be silly and childish to be sure - and I was certainly not disappointed in that regard - but I was definitely not prepared for just how terribly funny and utterly endearing it turned out to be. All you overpaid writers of "Wild Hogs," "Evan Almighty," "License to Wed," "Norbit," etc, please take note: THIS is how to make a screwball comedy.
A playful take-off on the you-are-there reality TV show "Cops," "Reno 911" features the crazy, slapstick-ridden antics of the most inept law enforcement agency this side of the Keystone Kops. For their big-screen debut, these fun-loving goofballs leave their home-base in Nevada and head off to Miami for a national sheriff's convention, giving them a chance to wreak their own unique brand of havoc on the unsuspecting citizens of South Florida.
The movie is really nothing more than a series of loosely constructed comedy sketches held together by the barest outline of a story (all the cops at the convention are quarantined except for our intrepid band from Reno, putting them in default charge of all law enforcement in the greater Miami area). But you don't really need or want much more than a barebones plot when the material is as clever, ribald and inspired as it is here. Indeed, there's an almost Marx Brothers-like, burlesque freeform quality to the movie, enhanced by the good-natured, anything-goes fearlessness of the performers, who never balk at what they are called upon to do, no matter how undignified, humiliating or degrading it might be. In fact, it's that high-spirited infectiousness that comes wafting off the screen and envelopes the audience in laughter.
Credit for the film's success goes to writers Thomas Lennon and Kerri Kenney, co-writer/director Ben Garant, and their fellow actors, Carlos Alazraqui, Mary Birdsong, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Niecy Nash and Cedric Yarbrough, lovable bunglers all who know that true comedy works only when the performers approach the material with the utmost straight-faced earnestness. There are also clever cameo appearances by Danny DeVito, The Rock, Paul Rudd and Paul Rubens to ramp up the hilarity.
In a film year woefully bereft of humor and laughs, "Reno 911!: Miami" is like a life-saving oasis in a movie comedy desert.