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Originally published February 23, 2007 at 12:00 AM | Page modified February 23, 2007 at 1:59 AM

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Movie review

"Reno 911!: Miami" | Staking out some irresistibly rude riotousness

It may seem a bit grandiose to proclaim a renaissance in cable-TV comedy. But various schedules packed with offerings such as "The Daily...

Special to The Seattle Times

It may seem a bit grandiose to proclaim a renaissance in cable-TV comedy. But various schedules packed with offerings such as "The Daily Show," "The Colbert Report," "The Sarah Silverman Program," "Curb Your Enthusiasm," "Extras," "The Office" (not cable, but it could be) and animation gems including "Robot Chicken," "Assy McGee" and "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" make the notion not so far-fetched.

Also consider "Reno 911!," the inspired improvisational romp that's become a flagship of Comedy Central's programming. It's a pure delight that the show's genius performance troupe has assembled one of the highest-concept, lowest-brow, most uproarious movie debuts since the surprise sensation of last year's cable crossover "Borat."

Movie review 3.5 stars


Showtimes and trailer

"Reno 911!: Miami," with Robert Ben Garant, Thomas Lennon, Niecy Nash, Mary Birdsong, Kerri Kenney-Silver, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Carlos Alazraqui, Cedric Yarbrough, Paul Rudd. Directed by Garant, from a screenplay by Garant, Lennon and Kenney-Silver. 84 minutes. Rated R for sexual content, nudity, crude humor, language and drug use. Several theaters. For an interview with deputies Clementine Johnson (Wendi McLendon-Covey) and Raineesha Williams (Niecy Nash), go to www.seattletimes.com/movies.

Fans of the show will have no problem with such high praise for "Reno 911!: Miami." Neophytes with a taste for high camp and impolite hilarity will promptly feel at ease with the highly evolved characters and their elaborately internecine relationships, all of it witnessed through the eye of a fake documentarian's fly-on-the-wall camera.

A few pieces of backstory introducing the members of the Reno Sheriff's Department are briefly reprised from the show's four TV seasons, as are some choice sketch snippets. Among them are Lt. Jim Dangle's (co-creator Thomas Lennon) predilection for hot pants and thong underwear ("I need to move like a cheetah!") and the romantic triangles and quadrangles involving Dangle and deputies Wiegel (Kerri Kenney-Silver), Williams (Niecy Nash), Jones (Cedric Yarbrough), Johnson (Wendi McLendon-Covey) and Garcia (Carlos Alazraqui).

It's a "COPS" caricature combined with a soap opera that no detergent could ever wash clean.

The crew of Reno cops find themselves in Miami to attend a national police convention. "We were invited because everyone was invited!," says an enchanted Dangle. When an act of bioterrorism traps all the other law-enforcement attendees in quarantine, Reno's finest find themselves de facto defenders of Miami's citizenry in spite of the fact that they probably commit more crimes in the name of protection and service than all the actual criminals in Metro-Dade County.

A few details abstractly hold the story together — Paul Rudd keeps popping up as an incompetent ersatz drug lord — but plot particulars are beside the point. The purpose is simply an amped-up and bigger-budgeted version of the rapid-fire, expertly executed "COPS"-based improvisations as the deputies ineptly do their duty. The non-sequitur incidents range from an emergency call concerning an alligator in a swimming pool to a dead whale requiring removal from a nude beach.

Without exception, the spontaneous and seemingly unrehearsed banter between these close-knit co-workers is priceless for its finely tuned sense of immediacy, not to mention an unrelenting string of sight gags. A side-splitting stroll on beach patrol with Williams advising Wiegel on the nuance of ebonics is almost overshadowed by the women's department-issued wardrobe. Most memorable is an extended "Rear Window" homage in a seedy motel where the ickiest intimate moments of our heroes are captured with the drapes wide open.

When the MPAA hands down an R rating for "crude humor," it's usually a warning sign for no laughs whatsoever. This time they aren't kidding; "Reno 911!: Miami" is nonstop hilarious crudity.

Ted Fry: tedfry@hotmail.com

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