Review by J.T. Johnson
DIRECTOR: Kevin Smith
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Dave Klein
WRITERS: Mark Cullen, Robb Cullen
MUSIC: Harold Faltermeyer, Malcolm Kirby Jr.
Here is the dilemma: “Cop Out” is an action/comedy film in which Bruce Willis, Tracy Morgan and Seann William Scott all bring their game in a subpar movie that should be sent back to the 1980s where it might have actually worked. Thanks to the star talent, the film is by far not the worst thing that one could go see this year, but that’s also not saying much.
The film tells the story of Jimmy Monroe (Bruce Willis) and his partner, Paul Hodges (Tracy Morgan). The movie opens up with a hilarious interrogation sequence where Paul quotes from multiple films ranging from “Training Day” to “Dirty Dancing”. This is the funniest scene the audience will see.
After this encounter, the two go undercover in an attempt to stop a major player in the Latino drug world. Once the undercover mission goes awry, the two cops are suspended for 30 days. This causes problems for Jimmy due to the fact that he is trying to pay for his daughter’s (Michelle Trachtenberg) wedding.
His daughter, Eva, has a stepfather (Jason Lee) who can afford the wedding, but Jimmy decides to sell a vintage baseball card that eventually gets stolen by a robber named Dave (Seann William Scott). In an unofficial attempt to get the card back, Jimmy and Paul find themselves involved in the world of drugs once again.
The greatest thing this film has going for it is the team of Willis and Morgan. They have great chemistry with one another and perfect comedic timing. It gets even better when Scott joins the fun. In fact, Scott steals the show in every scene that he is in.
While the acting is good all around, the biggest problem with this flick is the script written by Mark and Robb Cullen. There are times when there was a bit of uncertainty as to whether they wrote a serious tribute to ‘80s buddy cop films or a parody of it.
All of the clichés can be found within. There is the disgruntled police chief, the two bumbling detectives (Kevin Pollak and Adam Brody) who are getting in the lead characters way and the naughty dark humor of the two cops themselves. It was as if the writers and director Kevin Smith took a note from every “Lethal Weapon” film in existence and just said, “Do that.”
The biggest thing that is unbelievable was the fact that the two main characters are willing to do anything in order to find Jimmy’s baseball card. It is understandable that he would want to pay for his daughter’s wedding, but how much pride does this man have that he would go through this much trouble.
Also, the villain, Poh Boy (Guillermo Diaz), is very reminiscent of the two-dimensional cardboard cutouts that were considered menacing in many cop films. If the cops wait, all they’ll have to do is capture him. Seriously, he kills more of his own henchmen than the good guys do.
As far as Smith goes, this the first film that he has directed that he has not also written. The problem is that from what his direction shows in this film, he would much rather stick to the dick and fart jokes than get down to the business of handling the film’s action sequences. At least he moves the cameras around more this time.
Unfortunately, he does the shaky handycam technique that makes many in the audience nauseas. Smith has been a director for many years now. His stuff should not look like an amateur just starting out in the business. However, his films in the past have never really called for the camera to move that much but that is no excuse.
While the talent of Willis, Morgan and Scott is truly funny, it is not enough to save a very shaky and unreliable story.