French director Quentin Dupieux’s brand of deadpan absurdism, effectively displayed in “Rubber” and “Wrong,” hits a stale patch with “Wrong Cops.” Pitched somewhere between a DIY alt-humor video and a knockabout comedy, this meandering lark about a corrupt, spiteful and hopelessly distracted police force in a decriminalized, sun-scorched city never quite finds the funny bone.
Considering Dupieux’s temperament, it’s got plenty of unforced weirdness, however, even beyond the casting of Marilyn Manson as a hapless teen. Duke (Mark Burnham, reviving a bit part from “Wrong”) is the dirty cop trafficking weed inside dead rats, while De Luca (Eric Wareheim of gonzo comedy duo Tim & Eric) uses his badge to coerce girls into flashing their breasts.
After shooting his neighbor, Duke hands off the dying body to a fellow officer (Steve Little), whose gay porn past sparks a blackmail scheme from another disaffected cop (Arden Myrin). Director Dupieux, an electronic musician who created the ‘80s-style Tangerine Dream-ish score under his pseudonym Mr. Oizo, also pokes fun at that other calling with synthesizer-noodling, eyepatch-sporting Officer Rough (Eric Judor), who harbors electronic dance music career aspirations.
In the funniest scene, a music producer (Kurt Fuller) figures Rough’s cop uniform to be a cagey marketing ploy. That’s “Wrong Cops” in a nutshell, really — ridiculousness as costume, little more.