With the mysterious Q from the Q Anon cult resurfacing this week, it’s a little odd to find a broad comedy made about a disinformation crisis that’s still very much live as I write. Yes, this is the Reno 911! comedy troupe, a gaggle of comics playing cops in the tradition of Police Academy and Super Troopers. Reno 911! has been a thing on tv and in movies for a while, but they took up a suggested title from Paramount for this streaming feature. Taking a lead from Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay, Robert Ben Garant’s feature at least deserves points for taking inspiration from current events, even if the history books have yet to be written that will explain the destructive role played by internet sensation QAnon.
So the stereotypical, bumbling cops are given a fresh mission; infiltrate a QAnon event, the amusingly named ‘Q’s Booze Cruise’, which is rumoured to have the mysterious Q on board. While the other party-goers boast about ‘pooping in Nancy Pelosi’s desk’, the gang home in on a Steve Bannon-type organiser, played by Patton Oswalt. Could he be Q? He denies it, of course, but isn’t that exactly what Q would do? We do get to the real Q eventually, but I’ll withhold that information on a need to know basis, but it’s …a well known tv celebrity.
It’s safe to say that the results of this experiment have been profoundly buried; nobody involved in this film even felt it was worth constructing a Wikipedia page for. Yet it’s got everything, which is to say, an electric scooter chase through the ship, a cameo from yer actual Pink singing Billy Ocean’s Caribbean Queen, a finale involving the phase ‘Titanic Human Centipede’. This is clearly not intended to be in good taste, but it’s something of a shock to the system to see a film that climaxes in the sex-dungeons of “Jeffrey Epstein Island’; Covid-tests and a Q Shaman henchman are one thing, but at times, this Reno 911 adventure sails pretty close to the wind.
And yet The Search for QAnon isn’t a complete bust; Oswalt strikes genuine sparks in his romantic scenes with Wendi McLendon-Covey, and there’s a telling line dropped into the opening about how the cops feel that both Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter protestors are out to get them. As a comedy, The Search for QAnon may be patchy, but as a historical artefact, this may well be fascinating to future generations. When so much effort is made trying to ignore the encroaching corruption that’s hobbling America, it’s something of a shock to see a film that goes after the same subject with such manic, childish ferocity.