Directed by: Kevin Smith
Premise: A pair of police detectives (Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan) attempt to track down the petty thieves who stole a valuable baseball card and unwittingly uncover a criminal network of drugs and murder.
What Works: There are a few individual scenes that play well, usually due to the comedic talents of Tracy Morgan.
What Doesn’t: Cop Out is a mess from start to finish. The story is convoluted by multiple false starts, a sloppy murder mystery, and characters who randomly walk in and out of the narrative. As an action film, Cop Out falls far short. None of the chases or shootouts are filmed or edited very well and the way the violence of these scenes is staged betrays the comedic tone. The casting choices are also poor; Tracy Morgan is completely unconvincing as any kind of police officer, even in this goofy context. Bruce Willis has been placed here to lend Cop Out some credibility with his usual hardboiled cop routine but there is very little for him to do and the film fails to either take advantage of Willis’ persona or to parody it. Cop Out suffers a similar problem in its treatment of the buddy-cop genre; the film begins as though it were intended to be a parody or satire but it never makes an effort to send up the clichés and just walks through them, one by one. When Cop Out tries to add something new, such as domestic problems in the detective’s families, none of these story elements go anywhere, and just send the film on unfunny tangents. And this is a very unfunny film. The gags of Cop Out include police officers handcuffing a suspect to the bumper of their car and dragging him over gravel and later holding a gun up to the head of a suspect’s wife while quoting movie lines. Moralizing over taste (or lack thereof) is generally a pointless exercise, especially in critiquing a comedy, but Cop Out spends a lot of its time making a joke out of subjects like police brutality and gang violence and it comes across as gratuitous instead of edgy.
Bottom Line: It’s hard to believe that Kevin Smith, the director of some of the most challenging and original comedies of the past twenty years, allowed Cop Out to end up like this. The film is a dud that should have stared D-list actors and gone directly to DVD.
Episode: #279 (March 7, 2010)