Wrong Cops is considerably less absurdist than Quentin Dupieux’s other films – most notably, Rubber, and Wrong. It is, however, one of the darkest comedies I’ve seen recently. The eponymous cops are cruel, misogynist, racist, bad people. The film makes no attempt whatsoever to disguise this. In fact, what makes the things on the screen particularly shocking, at least at first, is that the heinous actions are undertaken by police officers, who, above all, make no attempt to disguise their criminal activities.
This is also what provides much of the comedy, at least initially. In the hands of another filmmaker and other performers, the blatant sexual harassment, drug dealing, and complete apathy about police work would provide fodder for a thriller about police corruption. As it stands, however, the absolute, obvious, comedic ineptitude of the officers is what separates them from villains. While they presumably succeed in a significant enough portion of their illicit activities to not only continue doing it, but remain at large, the fact is that the majority of the film concerns their foibles. Mark Burnham is selling weed packaged in dead rats and trying to get rid of a half-dead guy he’d accidentally shot. Eric Judor is writing techno music. Arden Myrin is stealing found money from a Steve Little, a colleague. Ultimately, while not always brimming with good taste, the humor hits. We quickly learn to watch this not as serious reflection of any real-world situations, but as what it is – a series of comedic situations, masterfully set up to deliver laughs.
One of the characters brings up, towards the end of the film the theory that all of the characters are actually dead, and in hell. Admittedly, the character admits to being hugely stoned, and his rambling, nonsensical speech is mostly played for laughs. It does, however, sort of make sense. For one thing, the next scene underscores it by the appearance of an animal that reminded me, strangely, of Von Trier’s Antichrist. Appearances from both Marilyn Manson and two of the cast members from Twin Peaks underscore the feeling that something like that may indeed be happening here. It would also explain a shot guy that just will not die. If only for the reason that we are laughing at these characters, rather than empathizing with them in any way, it’s a pretty enjoyable stay in hell, all things considered. This is certainly not to suggest that the film is actually meant to be a serious portrayal of hell – but all these characters are certainly going there.