Mark Reviews Movies


1 Star (out of 4)

Director: Kevin Smith

Cast: Bruce Willis, Tracy Morgan, Seann William Scott, Kevin Pollak, Adam Brody, Guillermo Diaz

MPAA Rating: R (for pervasive language including sexual references, violence and brief sexuality)

Running Time: 1:50

Release Date: 2/26/10

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Review by Mark Dujsik | February 25, 2010

The funniest scene in Cop Out (actually the only funny one, come to think of it) comes right at the beginning, as detectives Jimmy Monroe (Bruce Willis) and Paul Hodges (Tracy Morgan) are about to interrogate a suspect. Paul wants to play the bad cop, and Jimmy derides him for how terrible he is at the game. Paul just steals lines from all his favorite police movies and TV shows, Jimmy jokes.

Indeed, Paul does. The idea behind the scene is funny, because what can we expect from a movie like Cop Out, which quickly establishes a nine-year partnership between two cops played by a straight-up straight man like Willis and an absurdist, stream-of-consciousness comedian like Morgan, except the formulas and clichés to which we've become accustomed? The idea that Paul will just spout some tough-guy BS he's seen and heard elsewhere hints that maybe, just maybe, screenwriters Robb and Mark Cullen have enough awareness of the buddy-cop-action genre to poke some holes in it.

Now observe the scene itself. Paul walks in with a gun, all crazy-eyed, throwing about lines from things ranging from Training Day and Heat to Schindler's List and The Color Purple with some Star Wars tossed in for good measure. The joke has been revealed, nothing like originally inferred. The gag is how many quotes from how many varied movies can Morgan say and Willis corroborate.

Don't get me wrong: The scene is still funny (especially when Morgan quotes Die Hard, to which Willis responds, "I've never seen that movie"). It's just the kind of funny that doesn't bode too well for what follows and points exactly to the movie's downfall.

This isn't a self-aware buddy-cop-action movie. It's simply a buddy-cop-action movie, and a pretty derivative and annoying one at that.

Jimmy and Paul stumble upon some kind of shady drug cartel (in actions and in comprehension, as we have absolutely no clue as to what they do, how they do it, and why they're so powerful except that they talk about drugs and kill people). A stakeout with a criminal informant goes south, and the Captain makes the partners turn in their badges and guns (but not before telling them, "There's the right way, the wrong way, and the way you two idiots do it").

Jimmy was depending on money for his daughter's upcoming wedding, because he could never let her well-to-do stepfather (Jason Lee) pay the bill, lest he lose his manhood. To try to make the cash, Jimmy decides to sell a rare baseball card he's been holding on to, but it's stolen by a parkour-loving thief named Dave (Seann William Scott). Paul, meanwhile, thinks his wife (Rashida Jones) is cheating on him, so he installs a hidden camera in a teddy bear in their bedroom.

The rest of the movie has the two behaving in equally childish ways, whether it's Paul going on and on and on about his habits for going number two or Jimmy continually whining about his baseball card while so much else comes to light. After a while, we become more annoyed with them than the tedious cop plot around them.

The cartel's leader Poh Boy (a painfully, insincerely over-the-top Guillermo Diaz) is missing a car, so he kills a lot of people and makes a deal with the Jimmy and Paul: Find the car; get the baseball card. Kevin Pollack and Adam Brody play the requisite jerk detectives, Cory Fernandez plays Poh Boy's hitman brother, and Ana de la Reguera plays the damsel in distress. She's been through a lot, in a movie that's pretty mean toward women in general (the exception being a gun-toting mama who, in a tired joke, abbreviates her swearing in front of her son) and kids in particular (Paul punches an 11-year-old car thief after the kid kicks him in the junk).

They also drag Dave behind their car, but then again, it is after he repeats everything Paul says and tells a knock-knock joke, just more and more childishness. And let's not forget the old standby joke of Paul adding the letter "o" to the end of words to speak faux Spanish (Can that even be considered a joke anymore?). It just keeps going.

The movie is directed by Kevin Smith, a smart and funny writer who probably should have done a once-over on the screenplay (if not twice), and the obligatory action scenes don't fare well under his supervision. There's a bland car chase through a cemetery, and the final firefight is without any sense of comprehension. We have no idea at whom our heroes are shooting or from where the bullets are coming. Once they move inside the drug leader's house, it's a simple, boring progression of kill one thug and move on.

Cop Out gets by a little early on off its leads, but we recognize soon after it has nothing going for it except the usual buddy-cop blueprint, lots of obnoxious characters, and an off-putting mean streak.

Copyright © 2010 by Mark Dujsik. All rights reserved.

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