Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Wrong Cops (2013): The irony of being bad

Wrong Cops (2013)
dir: Quentin Dupieux

Quentin Dupieux's films are dense blocks of absurdism that exist in a world of their own. His first American-released film, Rubber, was a grindhouse horror movie about a psychokinetic murderous tire that also had a 4th wall breaking meta layer slapped on top. His second movie, Wrong, was a film that looked at the twee surrealism of emotional indie films (such as Garden State) and made them absurdly difficult. Wrong Cops makes a music-obsessed version of Reno 911, with a bunch of cops doing wrong things at all times.

One story of Wrong Cops is about a drug-dealing cop trying to figure out what to do with a guy who is shot in the back of his trunk. Another story is about a desk jockey trying to hide his gay pornographic past. And, another is about a cop trying to see some breasts. Marilyn Manson also appears as a teenage music lover. The stories are all edited together to form a cohesive story out of 4-5 different strands.

The rough draft version of Wrong Cops premiered at Sundance with three chapters that were shown successively. The first chapter, now available online, is about the drug-dealing cop harassing Marilyn Manson, a story which gets chopped into the movie and dismissed into back story. The second and third chapters were similarly stand-alone. Quentin's vision had the film being 7 different chapters that were going to be ran successively.

The constant interweaving of the story lines almost seems organic, and possibly makes the film into an easier to swallow tablet. But, it changes the intent of the original concept. The Sundance version of Wrong Cops seems like it would be a comment on the television show Cops where each story is told and finished with some hangovers and characters bleeding into the next story. Instead, the film ends up becoming a quasi-sketch comedy where the bits dance around each other.

Wrong Cops is a funny movie. But, the difference in editing seems to make it a completely different movie, and makes the current version of Wrong Cops seem very disposable. Entertainingly disposable, mind you, but the sketch format it now seems to have tames both the surreality and the darkness that is within the frames.

Perhaps that is the comment. That a cop getting maced because he sexually harassed a young female is kind of dark. And, if condensed into one complete chapter, the absurdism would be stronger. But, as a sketch comedy, surrealism is the name of the game. Mr. Show and Upright Citizens Brigade both went darker and more absurdist faster and more frequently. Even Reno 911 had more dark and absurd moments than Wrong Cops has.

Would I recommend it? Sure. I, actually, really enjoyed the movie despite my above kvetching about the editing decision for the final version. It's funny and has a lot of great scenes, mostly tied together by the shot guy who ties a lot of the stories together as he's dying. And, all he wants to do is hear some music. But, I would love to see what the critically-derided chapter divided version would feel like.

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