If you are a fan of 80’s buddy cop films, Tango & Cash, Lethal Weapon, 48 Hours, and Beverly Hills Cop then Cop Out maybe right up your alley. The entire film is a parody on those popular films from the eighties. It wasn’t immediately obvious to me that this was the case. For some reason I had it in my head that Cop Out, while being a comedy, would at least be a bit serious, like the films it riffs on with a mixture of serious police work mixed with funny jokes.
The premise of the story is all buddy cop fare. On the date of their anniversary as partners on the force, Jimmy Monroe (Bruce Willis) and Paul Hodges (Tracy Morgan) get a break on a case. When they go it alone working the lead things go awry and they find themselves suspended from the force without pay. Jimmy, whose daughter is due to be married, goes to have a rare and valuable baseball card appraised in order to cover the cost of his daughter’s wedding. His ex-wife’s new husband threatens to cover the near 50k dollar cost of the wedding if he can’t. The card is stolen while being apprised by a couple of bumbling thieves. With his partner’s help they track down the card’s theft, which also leads to the big break they needed in the case that got them suspended in the first place.
To be sure this is a hard R comedy, just like the films it is parodying; maybe in a very tongue in cheek way playing homage to. Thankfully it is not a wasted R. Lately, comedies, last year’s bromance I love you, Man specifically, springs to mind feel like they add things to force an R rating. This is Director Kevin Smith’s first outing that doesn’t have him credited as writer; that would go to the brothers Mark and Robb Cullen. Even without Smith having writing duties fans of his previous works will find his finger prints all over the film contributing to the rating. Any one who follows the prolific Twitter user and his previous works will notice several lines that sound like something I would expect him to say or include in his films. It’s all very lewd, and some of the jokes go on far too long but often laugh I did.
One thing I took issue with in the film is some of the camera work early on. There seemed to be lots of shaky quick cut tracking shots. As best I can recall this is the first film Smith and long-time Smith cinematographer Dave Klein have really had to show any prolonged action sequences in. I really only noticed it in the first thirty minutes of the film. A car chase later in the film seemed to flow much better than the early foot chase did. Then again, this being a parody perhaps some of this camera work was intentional? Hard to say with any certainty but knowing Smith it probably was, or at least is an easy Cop Out.
Easily the highlight of the film is when Dave (Seann William Scott) shares screen time with Willis and Morgan. Scott’s character is the funny guy informant similar to Joe Pesci’s Leo Getz in the later Lethal Weapon films. There is a scene with the three of them in a car that I could have easily watched an hour of and forgotten about the rest of the flick. Barry Mangold (Adam Brody) and Hunsaker (Kevin Pollak) play the other dicks on the force who take over the case when Willis and Morgan’s characters are suspended. The two share some pretty hilarious lines that are often homoerotic to a great effect. Willis and Morgan’s performances are good, given the material. Morgan could easily be viewed as playing a variation of his Tracey Jordan character from 30 Rock but I feel it’s a bit deeper than that. The one fault I may have is that some of the jokes lose their initial impact as some seem to get drawn out far longer than they needed to.
The biggest nagging issue I have is the end feeling just a bit too long. After a first and second act filled with what seems like a joke a minute, the jokes take a back seat as the story wraps things up in the obvious big shoot out with the bad guy that ends every buddy cop film.
It’s difficult to easily recommend Cop Out. It certainly isn’t for every one. Smith’s fan’s, those with an affinity for juvenile raunchy humor, and Tracey Morgan fans will probably love it. Those who enjoyed his previous effort, and I feel very overlooked and underrated Zack and Miri make a Porno, may leave the theater less than impressed with the Director’s latest effort.
I give Cop Out 2 “80’s buddy cop film posters” out of 5.
by John Coovert