Lieutenant Jim Dangle (Thomas Lennon) is honest when it comes to the abilities of the Reno Sheriff’s Department: “You know,” Lennon says in an interview with The Hatchet in which he and the other cast members stayed in character, “When you’re not very good at your job, you can set your bar pretty low. It’s easy to feel good when your best day is only three percent better than your worst.” This can’t-do attitude is the backbone of “Reno 911!” on Comedy Central, and seems to be the prevailing theme of the new film “Reno 911: Miami.”
The film, which is more or less an extended episode of the television show, manages to hit consistent comedic highs, thanks mostly to the skill with which its actors play completely inept cops patrolling Miami.
Early in the interview, Lennon places a pistol on the table of the hotel room. “Don’t worry about it,” he says. “This is a continuation of one of the film’s most frequent gags; if this interview were the film, I would be accidentally shot within seconds.” The total body count – “about a baker’s dozen,” according to Deputy Travis Junior (Ben Garant) – is just one example of the cruel humor of “Reno 911: Miami,” in which people and animals are maimed with equal aplomb.
Like many “mockumentaries,” “Reno” runs into trouble with a lack of a coherent plot due to the improvisational nature of the movie. Still, “Reno 911: Miami” is a crude film, described by its own characters as a “boob and fart parade,” in which a whale’s carcass is obliterated and every member of the cast is seen simultaneously masturbating.
For fans of the show, “Reno 911!” is a great hour and a half with the characters we’ve come to know and love; the ensemble cast play off one another as well as they do on the show, and the film doesn’t contain any awkward scripted moments – even when it pauses to develop the plot, there is a sense that they are making it up as they go along. No one should go into the movie expecting anything different than the normal antics of the show, and we are given a chance to see the cast at their best, which for Dangle, happens to be in short-shorts.