Kopps (2003) Movie Review

If the premise of the Swedish comedy “Kopps” sounds familiar, it might be because it’s similar to the recent American comedy “Super Troopers”. The latter movie was about a group of tight-knit State Troopers facing lay-off because there’s just not enough crime to justify their continued employment. This forces the troopers to manufacture crimes for the sake of skewing the statistics. In “Kopps”, four small town cops in an idyllic Swedish countryside town face layoff for similar reasons. In this case, the crime isn’t minimal, it’s nonexistent.

The bearer of bad news is visually pleasing blonde Jessica (Eva Rose), who informs the happy go-lucky cops of the impending closure of their police station. Hoping to stave off unemployment or — gasp! — possible reassignment, the cops to go on a spree of petty crimes. First it’s just Jakob and his partner, but soon it’s all the cops.

Fares Fares, the older brother of co-writer/director Josef Fares, stars as Jakob, a single dad unlucky in love. (Jakob also has an odd compulsion where he has to honk his car horn every time he exits the vehicle.) Jakob’s colleagues include Benny (Torkel Petersson), who daydreams about being a supercop, and the bickering married couple Lasse (Goran Ragnerstam) and Agneta (Sissela Kyle). There’s also their boss, who has so little to do one wonders why he was even included; a gay dispatcher trying to teach his dog tricks (I think); and the town drunk who becomes the cops’ motivation for their petty crime spree in the first place.

Later in the film, what started as minor vandalism and theft threatens to become something more serious. The crew accidentally blows up a friend’s hot dog stand and later, SWAT cops from another town show up during a staged kidnapping incident that quickly spirals out of control. But like our cops, we get the feeling that these SWAT guys are just as shock by the presence of a crime that demands their actual involvement.

But fear not. “Kopps” is, first and foremost, a harmless comedy, and as such the potential to be serious almost always gets defused with contrived situations only possible in comedy movies. Which doesn’t mean there’s a lot of laugh out loud moments in “Kopps”, because there really isn’t. Leading me to this little tidbit: the film plays out as a PG comedy — that is, if you don’t know English, because if you do you’ll realize that there’s enough F-words in the movie to fill up a gangster rap song’s lyric sheet. Most of the F-words, and probably the bulk of the movie’s impressive budget, comes at the behest of the Benny character. The goateed Benny (who has a dark secret involving his hair) fantasizes about being in an American action/cop film (or at least that’s the conclusion I came up with, because every time Benny goes into his supercop mode he’s cursing up a storm in English).

Which leads me to this conclusion: if director Fares ever wanted to make a pure action movie, I’m certain he would excel at it. There are a number of well-staged action scenes in “Kopps” involving the type of elaborate choreography John Woo would be impressed with. There are also plenty of surprising special effects, all of which probably made “Kopps” about, oh, 90% more costly than it should have been. Are the special effects superfluous? Mostly, yes, but they’re also impressive enough to be entertaining.

“Kopps” is not, as mentioned, all that funny. It has its moments, and for the most part the movie is mostly quirky and charming. Audiences won’t be rolling in the aisles with this one, and most of the comedy disappears when Jakob and Jessica gets together, leaving just enough room for charm. It helps that Eva Rose fills up the screen with a radiant presence, especially opposite Lebanon-born Fares Fares, who might just have the biggest honker I’ve ever seen on celluloid. And although the ending is way too pat, especially for a non-Hollywood film, “Kopps” has enough going for it to be worthwhile.

Albeit just barely.

But every now and then one can’t help but wish director Fares would shelve the comedy and just make an action movie already. Although “Kopps” works somewhat as a comedy, I’m reasonably certain it would have made an even better action film.

Josef Fares (director) / Josef Fares, Mikael Hafström, Vasa (screenplay)
CAST: Fares Fares …. Jakob
Torkel Petersson …. Benny
Göran Ragnerstam …. Lasse
Sissela Kyle …. Agneta
Eva Röse …. Jessica
Christian Fiedler …. Folke
Erik Ahrnbom …. Hakan

Buy Kopps on DVD