Sometimes you have to sell out to do good. Someone told me that once. Not really. Many of Kevin Smith's small but devoted legion of fans - which includes me - cried foul when Cop Out debuted, and it's understandable why. A generic buddy cop movie starring Bruce Willis and Tracey Morgan, Cop Out is a departure from Smith's other movies and a clear cash grab. I'm not complaining, but I am saying. Despite its lack of originality, Willis and Morgan do manage to piece together enough funny moments to help the film avoid being a complete wash.
The pair play partners who are put on suspended leave after a shootout goes poorly, but who put themselves in harm's way to recover Willis' stolen baseball card - which he planned to use for his daughter's upcoming wedding. Conveniently, the card ends up in the hands of a Mexican-American drug lord who heads the gang responsible for the incident that got the partners in trouble in the first place.
Cop Out - originally titled A Couple of Dicks - does not feel like a Kevin Smith movie. Other than some sporadic swear words, the action-comedy bears little resemblance to anything the director has done before. Given that the studio didn't want audiences to know he was the director (based on the marketing campaign), this is a good thing.
Unfortunately, as much as I love Kevin Smith, he's not a good action director. The action scenes are all around forgettable, though the climax holds its own. The choice of music takes away any element of excitement - it's terrible and sounds like it was made on a keyboard in Smith's garage. Makeup costs must have been low because neither star gets a scratch on them the entire film. And all Bruce Willis action movies must have Bruce Willis bloodied and bruised by the end.
Cop Out is a comedy more than it is an action film, though. The movie isn't hilarious and by no means up to the level of quality expected of Smith, but it does maintain a consistent level of entertainment. This is a cash grab for Willis and he shows it, but for Morgan it's a rare opportunity as leading man, and he shows it, too. I'm not a huge fan of the actor and can't possibly imagine being stuck in an elevator with him, but he is moderately funny here and does, more or less, carry the film. Of course, Willis is needed to play the straight man, but his performance is just average. Seann William Scott, who was featured prominently in the ads, has a small but humorous role.
Cop Out is easy to watch and more or less enjoyable, but it is a hodge podge of better, similar films. Smith exaggerates this with his copycat directing, but many plot points in the movie are left only partially developed or unnecessary. The subplot where Morgan is worried that his wife is cheating on him isn't funny or crucial to the plot; the female hostage needed a more central role; the pairing of Kevin Pollak and Adam Brody leaves a lot of potential on the table.
Cop Out is Kevin Smith's weakest movie, and yes, that includes Jersey Girl (which I actually liked). As an action-comedy regardless of Smith's involvement, the movie is generic and a rehash of better buddy cop movies from the 80's and early 90's. Still, for what it is, Cop Out manages to be harmlessly entertaining.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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