Cop Out

Cop Out

Film review by: Witney Seibold

Here’s a clue: The music in Kevin Smith’s film “Cop Out” was composed by Harold Faltermeyer, the same man behind the scores of such flicks as “Beverly Hills Cop,” “Tango & Cash,” “Fletch” and “Fatal Beauty.” Smith, with this surprisingly flat and sporadically funny cop flick, was clearly trying to make a film in the same vein as the buddy cops flicks of the 1980s. He very own “Lethal Weapon,” if you will. The problem is Smith has always been a much more talented writer than director. Smith is a wordsmith of impeccable skill and has a language that is equal parts honest twentysomething angst and jejune genital humor. The words come easily and gamely in a Kevin Smith script, and most of his films are a delight to listen to. When it comes to his visuals, he’s never exactly been a master of the craft, however, usually just allowing his setups to be utilitarian vehicles for his effervescent dialogue.

Smith, however, did not write “Cop Out,” which kind of reveals how sloppy his directing can be. The pace of the film is chaotic, a lot of the story elements are needlessly focused on, while others seem forced in at the last minute. There are many characters in the film, most of which pass through without leaving too much of a mark. Strangely, the most enjoyable scenes come from Seann William Scott as a pointedly annoying adrenaline junky and practitioner of parkour.

The buddy cops in the film are played by Bruce Willis in grizzled mode, and TV’s Tracy Morgan in oddly inhuman mode. One is white, one is black. One is young one is old. One is experienced, one is sloppy. They are both free with obscenity, and often reprimanded by their clichéd boss. It’s unclear how much of this is supposed to be genuine, and how much is supposed to be homage. Another clue: while interrogating a suspect early in the film, Willis tells Morgan that in order to be a “bad guy,” you just need to steal lines from your favorite movies, leading Morgan to quote a string of classics. “Everything on cable,” Willis points out.

The story involves Willis trying to reclaim a valuable baseball card that has landed in the hands of a local crime boss (Guillermo Diaz). Along the way, they meet the Scott character, a Mexican ex-floozy (Ana de la Reguerla), an 11-year-old car thief, possible fidelity troubles with Morgan’s wife (Rashida Jones), the mockery of their co-workers (Kevin Pollack and Adam Brody), an unfortunate run-in with an open grave, and, uh, some other stuff too.

The problem with a lot of the old ‘80s buddy cop movies is that they focused on the charm of the leads over the complexity of the story. Smith seems to have taken that concept to heart, and wanted his movie to coast on its humor. While Willis is a fine comic actor, and Morgan has a few funny moments, they just weren’t charming enough to keep the strange cop plot afloat, leaving us with a dirty and only sporadically funny movie.

I wish that Smith would write close to his heart. Ur his soul into a screenplay of unflinching honesty (which I know he has the power to do), and then hand off his script to a director like Richard Linklater or David Gordon Green, and watch the brilliance bloom. Until then, we’ll have to be satisfied with “Cop Out.”

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Published in: on March 4, 2010 at 12:25 pm  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Yeah…I saw the movie last night. Close to two hours of my life that I can’t get back. Biggest waste of my time. I didn’t even find Seann William Scott’s scenes that entertaining.


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