“WRONG COPS” (Sundance Movie Review)


by: Olivia Saperstein on: 2013-01-23 22:18:49

Let’s make this clear: WRONG COPS is a party. Oh, and don’t worry,
it’s appropriately blood-infused. While writer/director Quentin Dupieux (STEAK,
RUBBER, WRONG) may deny the “experimental” classification, he is certainly
known for his authentic filmmaking choices, so expect WRONG COPS to exceed all
levels of dissidence.

The movie takes place from Monday through Sunday in seven
chapters, though the Sundance Film Festival only screened the Monday through
Wednesday sections of this work in progress. Each day seems to be just another
version of an indulgent, humorous hell on Earth. Cue Los Angeles setting: a
time period when the crime rate has decreased to a level that police officers
are bored and have nothing better to do than hump cars, play with their guns
and pick on sorry teenagers (Marilyn Manson convincingly channels insecure high-schooler
David Dolores Frank). Dare I say this version of LA is like MULHOLLAND DR. on


Mark Burnham’s cop Duke could serve as pack leader, and his
performance successfully induces cringing laughter. He pisses on fences to mark
his territory, pulls guns on innocents and has a stake in the illegal drug
trade. He’s the cop of our nightmares—not because he abides by the law, but
because he lethally breaks it. No wonder Dupieux claims his world is supposed
to represent the End of Days.

Our other friends, Sunshine (Steve Little), Shirley (Arden
Myrin) and Renato (Eric Wareheim), each possess their own quirks, whether in
the form of dirty secrets or shameless sexual harassment. For instance, after Gary
(Don Stark) “finds” a dead body in his apartment, Shirley rummages through his
refrigerator pointing to its sadness, while Renato flagrantly takes a dump in
his toilet.

Dupieux just doesn’t do traditional narrative. He challenges
us, constantly toying with our expectations. Cop cars take us on a dirty ride
where the director’s own electro (composed under the name Mr. Oizo) pumps over
each bump and sunlight burns the cement of tainted street corners; the feeling
of doom is upon us. If policemen can act with such unapologetic immorality,
then anything is possible, and this is what provides the film with both its
humor and discomfort. It points to a reality of life: that, well, anything is possible.

Speaking in Lacanian terms, if all we have to separate
ourselves from the Other (per example, the government) is uniform, then what is
it that makes us so trusting? WRONG COPS begs that question. Lacanian scholar
Slavoj Zizek would say that pleasure can only be derived through transgression
(acting against the Other). If cops exist to police our enjoyment, then what
happens when they break this order and transgress themselves? Where do we find
our “jouaissance” then? This is what throws us off balance.

Yet please, feel free to discard this analysis and enjoy the
film as fun for fun’s sake, as it certainly plays that way. We can only wonder
why more movies aren’t so daring and unapologetic. What will happen in the next
installment, when actors such as Jennifer Blanc and Ray Wise join in on the
shenanigans? Who knows, we may laugh ourselves to death. For now, the movie


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Olivia Saperstein
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