American studios haven't entirely given up on transforming dusty old television shows (Charlie's Angels, Maverick, etc.) into newfangled cinematic blockbusters. But increasingly, now they're co-opting popular contemporary boob-tube fodder instead. Like the big-screen versions of the cult hits Strangers With Candy, Da Ali G Show, and Jackass, Reno 911!: Miami is less an adaptation of a cult television hit than an extension of it. Call it big-screen television or cinevision, but the popularity of Borat, the low budgets involved, and the built-in audiences for big-screen takes on small-screen favorites all make it doubtful that this trend will disappear any time soon. The raucous, proudly lowbrow big-screen update of Reno 911! suggests that that isn't necessarily bad: Miami mostly preserves its small-screen sibling's considerable virtues and retains just about all its other aspects.
Miami's ramshackle plot sends the show's collection of bumbling cops to a law-enforcement convention in Miami. When sabotage leads to a massive quarantine of the nation's legitimate law-enforcement agents, the Reno 911 gang takes over and zaniness, tomfoolery, and shenanigans ensue. Keystone cops for the age of Internet porn and free-floating cynicism, the film's space cadets are terrible police officers and even worse human beings, but the film, like the show, embodies a weird strain of affectionate misanthropy. Reno 911's anti-heroes are doomed, deluded losers, but they engender a strange sympathy all the same.
In its maiden big-screen outing, Reno 911! goes predictably big and broad. It brings back just about every beloved guest star from its small-screen incarnation, including Toby Huss, Patton Oswalt, Nick Swardson, Paul Rudd, The Stella Fellas, and Paul Reubens, in addition to a couple of big-name cameos it'd be a shame to spoil. In the film's impeccably curdled black-comic universe, everyone lusts after the wrong person, pursues impossible dreams, and ends each night filled with shame and desperation. That bleak overarching fatalism, as well as a strangely satisfying ending, ultimately make Miami! more—albeit not much more—than just 84 funny minutes of glorified skits and punchy blackout gags.