To Protect and Serve

Dir: Joseph Perez
Starring: Jake Wall, Ben Murphy, Lee Corbin

A spoof of the genre best exemplified by the TV show Cops, film-maker Jake (Wall - who bears a strong, presumably deliberate resemblance to documentary maker Nick Broomfield) is given permission to follow a number of policemen around Los Angeles, both at work and in their private lives - perhaps more like "to protect and observe"? Except, of course, everything unspools, and Wall ends up involved, rather than merely recording events. It starts fabulously, with Murphy and Corbin playing great characters: Corbin's Hugs For Thugs program is perhaps the most memorable. We also couldn't help thinking that Murphy would make a great replacement for Leslie Nielsen, sharing much the same dead-pan approach. Around half-way though, Perez seems to switch direction and aim for more dramatic territory, with less success. He's not helped by incredibly shaky camerawork, which had poor Chris staring at the floor for much of the second half. Look, we know it's pretending to be a documentary, we really don't need to be reminded every time the camera moves. Those gripes aside, the change from observer to participant on the part of Jake is well handled, though it's not until the end that we find out the reason for his interest in the topic, and it's never exploited to its full possibility. But in these days of "reality TV", this is certainly a topic that's more than ripe for a Rodney King-style pummelling; in its best moments, this film puts the boot in admirably.


It's a fair cop...
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