Film Review: Cop Out (15)By Kim Francis
May 26, 2010
Stars Bruce Willis, Tracy Morgan, Seann William Scott, Adam Brody, Jason Lee
Kevin Smith, the quirky director behind cult indie flicks like Clerks, Mallrats and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, hasn’t had a bona fide hit on his hands in some time.
A victim, perhaps, of his own success, his over-reliance on big names, a lack of ideas and a seemingly inexorable compulsion to believe his own hype have seen him turn out poorly-received duds like Zack And Miri Make a Porno and Clerks II in recent years.
With Smith fans eager for a return to form, there is hope that Cop Out will deliver some of the writing flair for which Smith is famous. Sadly, Smith isn’t in charge of writing duties on this occasion. The result is that what could have been a deliciously funny and irreverent 80s’ buddy-cop comedy send-up benefiting from Smith’s ear for innovative, sparky, frequently foul-mouthed and filthy dialogue is actually a gently-mocking, poorly plotted, watered-down version of, say, Beverley Hills Cop or Lethal Weapon.
Gentle mockery can be so effective but here the mockery gets somewhat lost among the formulaic approach and a heartfelt love of the genre being lampooned.
Bruce Willis is Smith’s star, a maverick New York cop named Jimmy Monroe – a bitter divorcee whose daughter is about to get married.
When his valuable rare baseball card is stolen in a raid, he enlists the help of his equally unconventional partner Paul (Tracy Morgan) and, employing some highly questionable methods, he attempts to recover the prized possession, now in the hands of a fearsome gangland drug lord.
Needing it to pay for his daughter’s wedding, Jimmy will stop at nothing, even recruiting the cat-burgling services of annoying parkour-adept thief Dave (Seann William Scott).
Kevin Smith hallmarks such as copious movie references and self-reflexivity are spattered throughout Cop Out but the laugh count is seriously low. It also suffers hugely from the film’s refusal to exploit his knack for dialogue.
The film has none of the indie appeal of Smith’s self-penned works and it’s difficult to see why he was ever attached to this pointless and uninvolving trudge through familiar territory.
In a nutshell, Cop Out is a formula-driven, largely unfunny 80s-inspired cop ‘comedy’ … and I use the term loosely.