Kevin Smith’s supposed comedy, Cop Out, aims to be a big-budget action movie but falls flat with a potentially talented but ultimately disappointing cast. Combine Smith’s lackluster directing efforts with a poor script written by Mark and Robb Cullen and mediocre performances by both Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan, and you have a two-hour long movie that feels more like four, with only a handful of scenes that are laugh-out-loud-worthy.
The film is essentially a rehash of many buddy cop films that were popular in the eighties and nineties. This may have worked well for Lethal Weapon and Rush Hour, but in the case of Cop Out the Cullen brothers fail to capture the right balance between fast-paced action scenes and witty bantering that this type of movie requires.
The movie depicts two cops, Jimmy Monroe (Bruce Willis) and Paul Hodges (Tracy Morgan), who have their badges taken away at the beginning of the film, a typical obstacle of the genre. Jimmy and Paul then face a number of misadventures while they try to relocate Jimmy’s stolen vintage baseball card, a prized ’52 Pafko, which leads them to encounter a thief named Dave (Sean William Scott), an attractive Hispanic woman (quintessential to any testosterone-driven cop movie), and, of course, Mexican drug lords. As a side note, Ana de la Reguera, who plays the alluring Mexican named Gabriela, seems to have been cast solely based on her looks and her ability to rant for long periods of time in Spanish, because she doesn’t bring anything else to the film.
The movie does succeed in one of the traditional aspects of the buddy cop genre: Cop Out is full of car chases and shoot-outs. Especially noteworthy is the scene in which Jimmy and Paul’s vehicle is being pursued through a graveyard – a great example of what an action flick should be.
The hard-ass seriousness of Willis juxtaposed with the immature and impulsive character of Morgan should yield an entertaining, odd-couple dynamic, but instead leaves the audience embittered by the lack of harmony between the two.
Morgan plays the same character he always plays: a childish, spontaneous, irrational caricature of himself. Despite this character being well received in 21-minute episodes of 30 Rock, 107 minutes of Morgan describing his bowel movements and yelling profanities becomes tiresome long before the credits arrive. He does, however, have his comedic moments. One of the most entertaining scenes in the movie consists of Morgan’s character interrogating a suspect, using only quotations from various movies including Schindler’s List, Star Wars, and Beetlejuice.
Willis, on the other hand, puts on one of his most disappointing performances, reciting his lines as though he knows how bad they really are. Jimmy’s character could have easily have been more developed, but instead he is mostly overshadowed by the obnoxious jeering of Paul and forced into a bland role in which he mostly ends up babysitting his partner.
However, the supporting role played by Sean William Scott is the best performance in the movie. His ADD, jokester character – who has a knack for climbing urban structures – outshines both Willis and Morgan. This film would have been better with more of Scott.
It’s no wonder Smith tried to distance himself from this movie and was quoted on his Twitter page saying that Cop Out was “not MY movie; a movie I was hired to direct.” Whether Smith, the Cullens, Willis, or Morgan are to blame, the overuse of standard clichéd farces is the final straw in this attempt at a comedic buddy cop flick. Do yourself a favor and spend your time watching 30 Rock and The Fifth Element instead.