TV shows making the transition to the silver-screen usually take one of two paths. They can abandon the elements which made the program so good in the first place and opt for a more blockbuster-friendly approach (see last summer’s lukewarm Miami Vice, an over-the-top serious film that ignored all the quirk and charm that made the 80’s series so memorable). Or, the small-screen original can simply make its big-screen debut an extra-long version of the original show (see the funniest movie of 2006, Borat).
Reno 911!: Miami sticks with the familiar formula, aware that it’s usually a mistake to mess with success. Based around the popular Comedy Central show, Reno 911!: Miami is basically an hour-and-a-half episode of the Copsspoof program, but retains all the humor and absurdity that makes Renoso good, guaranteeing plenty of laughs for fans of the show and newcomers alike.
On TV, Reno 911 follows the exploits of the bumbling men and women of the Washoe County Sheriff’s Department in Reno as they deal with criminals, crack addicts and other delinquents. Miami follows the same theme, but takes the Reno Sheriff’s Department out of the deserts of Nevada and brings them to South Beach for a national police officers convention (Why would clueless cops be invited in the first place? “Everyone was invited,” Lieutenant Jim Dangle says). A bio-chemical attack on the Miami Convention Center leaves the city without adequate police protection, forcing the Reno squad to watch over the city. The Reno Sheriff’s Department has to deal with a host of wacky situations as well as figuring out who attacked the convention center.
Focusing on the plot of Reno 911!: Miami would be like focusing on the decorations at a strip club: It’s not the reason you are there. The storyline does exactly what it’s meant to do in this type of random sketch-like film, moving the flick along from scene to scene when necessary. The barely-there plot rarely hinders the humor, with only a few moments where the narrative slows down the funny.
Which is great, because comedy is what Reno 911: Miami does best. Like the TV show, most of the movie’s best moments come from the random non-story related bits, ranging from stereotypical Floridian activities (alligator wrestling, run-ins with Cuban immigrants) to more bizarre scenarios (a dead whale washed up on a nude beach… you can only guess what happens next). Some gags fall flat, but for the most part, Reno 911!: Miami captures the same zaniness of the television show. Plus, thanks to an “R” rating, the film can pull off much more risqué humor than the show, even though the movie never uses crudeness as a crutch. The picture’s best over-the-top scene comes early on, focusing on all the members of the Reno squad and their personal misadventures through a motel. The scene ends with a shot reminiscent of (seriously) Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window, if you replace manslaughter with masturbation.
No one actor steals the show, but that’s exactly how it should be, because the Washoe County Sheriff’s Department is a collective unit. That isn’t to say the former The Statecrew don’t excel. They do. It’s just that they work better as a group than anything else.
Besides the Reno regulars, the film features several stand-out cameos. Danny DeVito, Paul Reubens (aka Pee-Wee Herman) and The Rock all have notable, albeit short, roles in Reno 911!: Miami, all of which are highly memorable. For the nerdier crowd, Renosees the members of improv troupe Stella back together for the first time together since their Comedy Central show got canned. It’s a geeks’ fantasy, and one of the coolest parts of the film.
If you already love Reno: 911, Miamiwill be welcomed with open arms, an even funnier incarnation of the show put to the big screen. For those new to Reno awaits an extremely funny film, with only an occasional miscue, in a similar vein to improvised comedies like Borat or Strangers with Candy. Reno 911!: Miami takes something already loved by many, and makes it even funnier.