When I first became aware of Jake Johnson's work, it was in the film "Paper Heart," and it's a very canny performance, an interesting one to see as somebody's first work. In the film, directed by Nicholas Jasenovec, Johnson played Nicholas Jasenovec, the director of a documentary about Charlyne Yi and Michael Cera falling in love. I saw it first at Sundance, then ended up moderating a Comic-Con panel for the film with Johnson, Cera, Yi, and Jasenovec all participating. Over the course of those encounters that year, I saw a good deal of Johnson, and he invariably made me laugh like an idiot at least once per conversation.
"New Girl" appears to have been the thing that finally opened the door for Johnson in terms of audiences understanding him and seeing him showcased properly. In the pilot, he was paired with Damon Wayans Jr. and Max Greenfield as his two roommates, but Wayans ended up on another show, with Lamorne Morris stepping in as a new character.
"Let's Be Cops" allowed Wayans and Johnson to work together again, and when we sat down to talk about the movie, two things were clear. First, Johnson can still make me laugh like an idiot, and second, Wayans and Johnson have very easy chemistry, something that is essential when making a comedy that hinges almost entirely on the relationship between the two leads.
Rob Riggle was also part of the conversation, which is pretty much always a good thing. Riggle's one of the most striking comedy performers working right now, and beyond that, a really good guy who has always been an easy interview. I really like where they go with his role in "Let's Be Cops," and we talked a bit about that.
Overall, this movie isn't brain surgery. It's a broad comedy that walks a very careful line in terms of how far they push some of the ideas in the movie, and we talked about that first. I think Johnson and Wayans and Riggle make it clear that they considered how far was too far, and you'll get a chance to see if you think they got it right this weekend.
"Let's Be Cops" is in theaters everywhere on Friday.