Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Cop Out (2010)


Plot Summary: A comedy about a veteran NYPD cop whose rare baseball card is stolen. Since it's his only hope to pay for his daughter's upcoming wedding, he recruits his partner to track down the thief, a memorabilia-obsessed gangster.

Let me start my explaining that I’m fully aware Cop Out isn’t released in the UK for another month but I’ve had the pleasure (and I use that term loosely) of catching it early, so consider this an advance review (read: warning). Director of Cop Out, Kevin Smith, has made his name and career by combining crude comedy with heart-felt relationship drama and has had a run of two particularly good films of late (Clerks II and Zack and Miri Make a Porno). When Zack and Miri made far less money than expected, however, Smith opted to shoot someone else’s script for the first time and hopefully regain his loses. The resulting film is Cop Out, an almost unforgivably bad comedy/action hybrid starring Tracey Morgan and Bruce Willis.

What is most frustrating about Cop Out is that in parts, it’s actually hilarious. The opening scene in which Morgan’s character interrogates a petty drug dealer only using film quotes is brilliant stuff. Later moments including a ten year-old car thief and banter with another pair of police detectives had me laughing out loud. Both Willis and Morgan are capable comedians and they work well here but it’s Seann William Scott who steals the show. His ecstasy addled, parkour loving house thief only appears in a handful of scenes but Scott brings more enthusiasm to his role than Smith probably did to directing the entire film. The use of licensed tracks from artists such as The Beastie Boys, Run DMC and Cypress Hill in the soundtrack also demonstrates a great taste in rap music which fits the tone of the film well.

The main problem with Cop Out is that the laughs are extremely inconsistent. As stated, there are some standout comedic moments but overall the jokes are usually embarrassingly bad. They either feel stale and outdated or just fall flat on their face and it’s largely down the script. This is, put simply, a badly written film and why Smith didn’t at least rewrite some of it is anyone’s guess. Not only are most of the jokes terrible but there are even characters who are clearly meant to be funny (such as the opposing pair of detectives or the stereotypical Mexican drug dealer) but in reality just aren’t in the slightest. Cop Out is also meant to be an action film but even fails in that department. Smith hasn’t dealt with action scenes on this scale before and it shows like a skid-mark on a pair of bright white undies. The action scenes in Cop Out are so terribly edited together, boring and uninspired that by the final scene I switched off entirely until people started talking to each other again.

Another issue with the film is with the central casting. Morgan and Willis can do comedy but together are an unconvincing pair of lifelong police partners. They don’t have the chemistry of so many great odd-matched actors in the past and it shows. Every time Cop Out gets ‘serious’ and wants us to feel sorry for Willis as he struggles to pay for his daughter’s wedding or Morgan and his marital doubts we don’t care. The casting and writing prevents us from having any sort of empathy for these two men as they’re not convincing enough and the drama isn’t meshed well with the rest of the film. The awkward original soundtrack and the predictable and meandering plot also work against Cop Out.

Apparently, Smith sought to make a film in the 80’s ‘buddy cop’ tradition which is why the plot seems so utterly pointless and the original soundtrack so horribly outdated. The more likely scenario is that Smith was asked to direct a modern comedy/action and then tried to crow-bar in the aforementioned homage and it fails spectacularly. Consequently, and as a lifelong fan of Kevin Smith, it’s sad to say that perhaps he really can only pull off the indie dramedies he’s best known for as Cop Out is all too fitting a title.

Final Verdict: 3/10

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