The first season of Reno 911! occupies an almost impossibly high place in my personal pantheon of television comedy, sitting comfortably alongside shows like Curb Your Enthusiasm, Da Ali G Show, and The Office. A mostly improvised spoof of Cops, featuring a crack cast of hilarious actors as racist, incompetent, and nearly retarded Reno sheriffs, season one was an almost perfect combination of slapstick, edgy, and embarrassing humor.
Then season two was a little less funny, and by the time season three rolled around, the writers were relying more on scripted gags than sharply improvised repartee, and it was almost painfully unfunny to watch.
Now we're given the big-screen version, which takes the bumbling crew to Miami (yes, just like Police Academy 5) for 84 minutes of incompetence in the land of topless beaches and wayward alligators. So with Reno 911!: Miami's contrived theatrical trailer and the icky memories of how stilted the TV show has become, you have every right in the world to be less than enthusiastic. But if you approach this movie with the cautious optimism that you'd reserve for any TV-to-big-screen adaptation, chances are, Miami will pleasantly surprise you—in parts, it's really damn funny.
The superfluous premise is that every police squad in the country has been invited to a cop convention in Miami—even the idiots from Reno. Dangle (Thomas Lennon), Wiegel (Kerri Kenney), Raineesha (Niecy Nash), and the gang treat it like a big spring break excursion, and are too hung over to make it to the convention on time. When they finally arrive, all the cops are quarantined inside the building due to a chemical weapons attack, leaving the Reno sheriffs not only in charge of policing Dade County by themselves, but also finding the terrorists and saving the day.
The next hour of the film is devoted to season two-worthy episodes of dumbfuckery, and many of the jokes hit with sniper-like precision. Raineesha tries to teach the moronic Trudy Wiegel how to talk "street"; slutty Clementine informs some lecherous guys that she's "smooth down there, like Barbie"; and the recurrent TV character, roller-homo Terry (Nick Swardson), even shows up, and nearly steals the whole movie.
For every bit that works, though, there's one that falls completely flat. To the writers' credit, though, nobody dumbed down or cleaned up the show's humor for the movie-going audience. The film's as raunchy and un-PC as the TV show ever was, and Patton Oswalt gets a considerable amount of screen time as the city's deputy assistant mayor, although his role is more restrained than Oswalt fans will be happy with. (He does, however, defend his chubby wrists as being possessive of "protective karate fat.")
While Reno 911!: Miami isn't an instant classic (or as funny as a compilation of the show's best moments), it's got that "perfect for the Laurelhurst Theater" vibe with lots of hysterical moments couched between exploding whale scenes and painful flashbacks to Steve Guttenberg and Bobcat Goldthwaite speeding around swamps in airboats. If you're a diehard Reno 911! fan, this movie won't make you want to hang yourself. But for the uninitiated, I recommend clearing the calendar and renting season one instead.