It's an American pastime to watch the law pursue the hapless, toothless or pantsless. "Cops" knows this. The Comedy Central show "Reno 911!" knows this, too, but it has wisely married that compulsion with our tendency to be amused by clueless policemen, from the Keystone Kops to "Police Academy."

"Reno 911!" is the show that lets us laugh at that tendency to laugh. Now it's a feature-length movie that aspires to do the same: to bowl us over with scofflaws in denim shorts, gap-toothed prostitutes and the boneheaded officers who arrest and/or sleep with them.

Moviedom is littered with the wreckage of ill-conceived small-to-big-screen adaptations, but "Reno 911!: Miami"is not the disaster it could have been. Fans of the TV show need not shudder. You will not see sacrilege. In the film, the Reno Sheriff's Department is taken out of Nevada and plopped in Miami for a law enforcement convention, where the Reno deputies are fish out of water next to the dapper, disciplined squads from other cities. When a bioterrorism event traps all the visiting officers in one building, the Reno deputies are contracted to keep an eye on the rest of the city, which is plagued with the hapless, toothless or pantsless.

Compared with the series, yes, it's a compromise. "Reno 911!: Miami" cribs some bits from the show, but serial television remains the better medium for this particular work. In a single film there is less chance to get to know the characters, whose tics, prejudices and inanities require more than 84 minutes divided among eight talented actors, who must ration their mugging and face time to keep the movie rolling. But "Reno 911!: Miami" will suffice for fans hungry for new material and tired of waiting for the show's fourth season to end or the fifth to start.

-- Dan Zak

Reno 911!: MiamiR, 84 minutes

Contains nudity, profanity and depictions of drug use. Area theaters.