Here's the link to the published version of the review in my column at The Richmond Examiner:
Cop Out (2010)
It's rather difficult to have to talk about Kevin Smith in a negative sense. His films tend to be interesting, charming, witty, and character-driven, which is everything that is missing from his latest film, "Cop Out." He puts those positive characteristics aside for others like dull, painfully-unfunny, poorly-written, and filled to the brim with clichés and plotholes.
The film follows two policemen, Jimmy (Bruce Willis) and Paul (Tracy Morgan), as they try to stop a group of drug dealers. After fumbling one attempt to do so, they are suspended without pay for a month, which is hard on Jimmy seeing as how he is expected to pay for his daughter's upcoming wedding. This makes him have to sell a rare baseball card that is worth around $80,000, but when he tries to get it appraised, it is stolen as part of a robbery. With the help of his partner, he must now try to get it back while also trying to bring down the drug dealers, who just happened to be connected to the stolen baseball card.
The biggest problem that stands out in this film is the screenplay, written by Robb and Mark Cullen. It has absolutely nothing original to offer to the "buddy comedy" genre. What we end up with is cliché after cliché, meaning no surprises anywhere in the film. You get your average cops trying to bend the rules, car chases, shootouts, and it all just turns out to be one long, dull ride, which is saying quite a bit for a film that only runs about 90 minutes.
At least we can't blame Kevin Smith for the terrible screenplay. He merely took this as a director-for-hire job to earn a paycheck, which hopefully means he'll be able to make one of his original movies next time that returns to the positive characteristics I mentioned earlier. Smith has built his career off of small, independent features like "Clerks," "Mallrats," and "Zack and Miri Make a Porno," all superior films in every way to "Cop Out."
From the opening scene, it's as if this film is letting us know that there will be no originality. This scene consists of Paul interrogating a suspect by using several quotes from other movies ranging from "Schindler's List" to "Jaws." This film has been described as a feature-length blooper reel, which is actually very true, except blooper reels are usually funny. We get scene after scene of Willis and Morgan, who look like they're just goofing around, as if they're doing a gag take. Imagine that for 90 minutes.
Their performances become another problem. Bruce Willis seems like he's phoning it in the entire time, just waiting for that paycheck to arrive, while Tracy Morgan tries to go way over-the-top as if he's trying to compensate for the unfunny material. He ends up just coming across as incredibly irritating, especially when he's describing how he waits to get home to go to the bathroom. That's an excellent example of the level of humor this film uses.
There are even several extra characters that had no purpose in the film whatsoever. Seann William Scott plays a robber who becomes buddies with Paul later on, and even tries to help them get the baseball car by attempting to break into a house, which is something that these two cops apparently can't do on their own.
While Jimmy and Paul are doing their own investigation, there are two other cops trying to crack down on the drug dealers, but they serve no purpose either, except to call in backup when it's needed, which is something else Jimmy and Paul apparently can't do either despite the fact that they both have cell phones on them.
With this, "The Spy Next Door," and "Valentine's Day," we already have three prime candidates for the worst film of the year. The studios don't really need to rush all this garbage out so fast, we still have nearly ten whole months to go before the year's over, meaning there could be films that are worse than these. I hope the paycheck was worth it, Mr. Smith. 1.5/4 stars.