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Overall Rating

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look: 9.68%
Average: 19.35%
Pretty Bad: 19.35%
Total Crap51.61%

4 reviews, 7 user ratings

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Cop Out
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Erik Childress

"Makes Jersey Girl Look Like Chaplin's The Kid"
1 stars

A Couple of Dicks would have been an appropriate title for one of the posters that align Tracy Jordan's dressing room on 30 Rock. Even the less-than-pun-tastic title change of Cop Out would have fit. Unlike the other films on Jordan's resume like Who Dat Ninja, Black Cop/White Cop and Fat Bitch, we get to be first witness to Cop Out and see what could have driven an actor into the arms of a nearly all-female weekly variety show. It is not Tracy Jordan starring in it though but his real-life alter ego, Tracy Morgan, who may as well have been playing his 30 Rock character. It's a shame he doesn't have Tina Fey writing for him though, nor Kevin Smith who has ventured into Cop Out as just a director for the first time in his career. The result is a virtually laugh-free affair that serves as the worst kind of calling card for the films fans of Smith wish he had the chance to make instead.

Contrary to the ads selling the idea of "New York's toughest cop...gets a partner", Jimmy Monroe (Bruce Willis) and Paul Hodges (Tracy Morgan) have actually been together for nine years; established in the first scene with an anniversary card of all things. More on that later though. On the trail of some Mexican gangsters, Jimmy and Paul botch a sting operation and get themselves suspended. Jimmy has a daughter (Michelle Trachtenberg) about to be married and resents the idea of her new stepfather (Jason Lee) paying for the wedding. Paul is suspicious that his wife, Debbie (Rashida Jones), might be cheating on him with the neighbor. If this all sounds a little haphazard, just wait a little while.

Jimmy is in possession of a mint Andy Pafko baseball card which should be enough to flip the bill for the nuptials. While in the process of selling it to a memorabilia store, the place is robbed by parkour criminal, Dave (Seann William Scott), who just happens to sell it to Poh Boy (Guillermo Diaz), the head of the very Mexican gang Paul and Jimmy were after. He strikes a deal with the cops to find a Mercedes that was stolen from him and will exchange the card for the car. This leaves Jimmy and Paul to track down Dave so they can find the car and get to the bottom of why the lovely Gabriela (Ana de la Reguera) has been stashed in the trunk for two days.

If you are counting up the number of subplots, you are already past the number of actual laughs in-between. And that is a lot of dead air to fill in over the course of nearly two hours; the last thing you would expect from a film baring the name of Kevin Smith. Even his harshest detractors would admit that, amongst which I am not. Whatever criticisms that could be made about a lack of directorial style always felt like a moot point in my book considering it was always more interesting to listen to his ideas (Dogma), care about his characters (Chasing Amy, Clerks II) or merely be laughing too hard to care (Clerks, Mallrats, Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back). Even the self-criticism Smith inflicts over Jersey Girl seems more a reaction to his critics than being completely deserved. That all changes with Cop Out though.

Smith not having any involvement with the screenplay credited to television writers, Robb & Mark Cullen, leaves Willis & Morgan drifting out there with their own devices. In Willis' case that means smirking through scenes that mask an impending rage that is surprising only in their restraint. With Morgan we watch him more or less scream his way through punchlines (sometimes to the detriment of audibility) and then repeat them just to make sure we heard him. In the grand history of unorthodox comic partners in cop films, it's hard to think of one that was less believable as a seasoned police officer as Morgan. Aside from the well-publicized and spoiled scene where Morgan interrogates a suspect with notable movie quotes (a scene that opens the film) there is nothing really unorthodox or funny about his behavior. Though the three times I can remember laughing did involve Morgan, in moments that appeared more improvised than scripted.

Looking for anything in Cop Out to justify its greenlight past the talent involved is a grind in itself. What was the ultimate purpose of this project? As a throwback to the days of the wacky buddy cop film, there is no distinct homage to its cliches nor an attempt to improve on them. Therefore there is not a single registered moment of satire or spoof. The scenes involving Poh Boy come down to a string of torture scenes against his men. This could have been a throwaway gag of more elaborate devices one after the next registering the baddie's frustration, a la Dennis Farina's salty tongue from Midnight Run or the consequences of Vader from Empire Strikes Back, a connection surprisingly lost in Smith's handling of these scenes. Guillermo Diaz's performance is grating enough as is, but add into that some extreme violence without a trace of irony and we're back to watching Cop Out in straight mode where it fails in one scene after the next.

The return of composer Harold Faltermeyer (the '80s template for films like Beverly Hills Cop and Top Gun) to the big screen for the first time since 1992's Kuffs signals the kind of film Smith was hoping to make. And as the familiar opening strains of Stephanie Mills' Bit By Bit begins to play over the closing credits, we are reminded of what film that is. At least those familiar with the song as the lyrical theme to Fletch, the character that Smith has been desperately trying to bring back to the big screen for years with Jason Lee. The character immortalized by Chevy Chase and created by novelist Gregory MacDonald, whom Smith credits as a major influence on his style of writing. Kevin Smith is a very smart and outspoken guy and I am sure he will share some great stories about the production of Cop Out and some humility at the negative reviews on the Q&A circuit and eventually another Evening with Kevin Smith DVD. On the last one he shared the story of Bruce Willis calling him (after having worked with him on the last Die Hard film) and wanting to find a project for Smith to direct him in. It is a shame they apparently took the first script that came their way. The good news is that Cop Out is a major studio film and will likely be Smith's biggest success to date. If this is the film that gets him the money to make his Fletch film, then we can chalk it up as a necessary evil. But please someone give him the money so we never have to sit through another Cop Out ever again.

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originally posted: 02/26/10 16:00:00
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User Comments

1/17/16 David H. Bruce Willis is cashing his paycheck 1 stars
7/07/11 DK A plotless, witless, poorly directed farce with actors who just don't care. 1 stars
1/23/11 mr.mike Yes , it's pretty awful. But I was entertained. 4 stars
7/26/10 Stephanie this movie was funny :D 4 stars
5/07/10 Ruby Spinel Kept my interest in a way that more serious cop dramas seldom do anymore. 4 stars
2/28/10 Jean Kacic Cop Out is nothing but bad lanquage, bad sexual comments and we wonder why our young ones a 1 stars
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  26-Feb-2010 (R)
  DVD: 20-Jul-2010

  16-Apr-2010 (15)

  18-Mar-2010 (MA)
  DVD: 20-Jul-2010

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