Some familiarity with the 50’s television show DRAGNET would certainly help, seeing as how the film specifically focuses on the rhythms and dialogue of the old cop show. This DRAGNET transplants the old show’s tropes into a dumb, horny buddy comedy, which works better than you might think thanks to Aykroyd’s love for the source material.
He’s the writer and star, and has fashioned himself the best character in the film - square peg “just the facts, ma’am” cop Joe Friday. Hanks is his snarky partner, and it’s admittedly weird to see Hanks playing co-star in what’s essentially a Dan Aykroyd movie.
Plotting for the film is unusually dense, as the cops weave through a story that ties together corrupt televangelists (Christopher Plummer), porno kings (Dabney Colman), dirty cops, and pagan cults. The plotting helps. In most comedies this kind of stuff is an afterthought; here, it’s given a surprising measure of care.