Review: Cop Out
PLOT: Two cops (Bruce Willis & Tracy Morgan) get tangled up with an eccentric thief (Seann William Scott) and a baseball memorabilia-obsessed mobster (Guillermo Diaz) when a valuable baseball card is stolen from one of the cops- who hopes to use the proceeds from the sale to pay for his daughters wedding.
REVIEW: COP OUT is an appropriate title for Kevin Smiths latest film, as this is exactly what this film feels like: a cop-out. This is Smiths first time working solely as a director for hire and it shows, with this lacking any of the clever dialogue or memorable characters youd find in one of Smiths other films. Obviously this is Smiths attempt to go mainstream, but by doing a film like COP OUT, hes pretty much ignoring all the things that make his films worthwhile. The end result is not pretty.
All due respect to Smith, of whom Im a fan, this film really is a disaster. Obviously, hes trying to make a homage to eighties buddy cop flicks like LETHAL WEAPON, 48 HRS, BEVERLY HILLS COP, and STAKEOUT, but this totally lacks the energy those films had in spades. THE PINAPPLE EXPRESS did the same thing, and better, just over a year ago, and this really pales in comparison. Nothing about the film gels. Willis and Morgan have no chemistry, the film lacks a strong villain, and the action scenes are incredibly lackluster. To be fair, Smiths never pretended to be a great action director, but the shootouts and car chases here are no better than what youd find on a particularly bad episode of CSI.
All of this wouldnt have mattered had the film been funny. After all, comedy is Smiths strength, but every single joke falls flat. Maybe Smiths just really uncomfortable directing someone elses script, or maybe the script wasnt good to begin with- but the humor is really lame. Willis pretty much sleepwalks through the role, but who can blame him? The only time Willis gets a laugh is during a brief (forced) DIE HARD mention, which is a surprise, as Willis can do comedy. He's mixed comedy with action throughout his career, but he hasn't got the edge, or the material he had in DIE HARD, LAST BOY SCOUT, FIFTH ELEMENT, or on MOONLIGHTING. I hate to rag on the guy too much, as hes truly one of my heroes, but he looks really uncomfortable here, where he essentially has to play the straight man to Tracy Morgan.
Which brings me to the films fatal flaw- Tracy Morgan, who Im usually a fan of (30 ROCK is da bomb) but really cannot carry a movie if he doesnt have good material to work with. Him walking around, quoting dialogue from movies like TRAINING DAY, while making funny faces is not much to base a film on. He pretty much just spends the entire movie acting as stupid as possible, but considering were supposed to be buying him as a cop, its too much of a stretch to ever imagine someone so moronic wwould be allowed to carry a badge and gun. I know this is supposed to be an action comedy, but remember Eddie Murphy as Axel Foley in BEVERLY HILLS COP? Sure, he was funny, but the guy was also a great cop, and made a credible action hero. Morgan does not, which makes the final shootout, where him and Willis suddenly turn into TANGO & CASH all that much harder to take. Perhaps if he hadn't been cast alongside such an icon, things ould have turned out better, but Morgan really is a disaster in the role.
Speaking of BEVERLY HILLS COP, this brings me to the one thing I loved about the film- the great retro synth score by eighties action music maestro Harold Faltermeyer. Between this, and another recent film he scored, HIGH SCHOOL, Faltermeyer seems to be making a long overdue comeback. The score is the most memorable thing about the movie, and they even managed to work in the theme song from FLETCH, which was one of the few things about the film to put a smile on my face.
Other than Faltermeyer, the only other person to come out of COP OUT with his dignity intact is Seann William Scott. Unlike the other actors, Scott actually brings some energy to his (small role), and the handful of times I chuckled while watching this were all due to Scott (except one scene, where the great Kevin Pollack breaks out his awesome Robert DeNiro impression). Hes one of those guys whos always been underated, and I was happy to hear hed be starring in Smiths next film, which (thank God) bring Smith back to his writer-director roots.
All in all, COP OUT is a really lousy movie. Considering the talent involved, COP OUT should have been a really fun action-comedy, but sitting through this is about as much fun as getting a root canal. As it stands, COP OUT is the only Smith film Ive ever really hated. Heck, even JERSEY GIRL, bad as it was, had its moments. Other than the score, some brief, inspired lunacy from Scott, and a cameo by the gorgeous Rashida Jones (playing Morgans wife, who in an extraneous subplot, hes convinced is cheating on him) this really has nothing going for it.
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