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Monday
Mar012010

COP OUT ain't no friend of mine

Rating:

I am a fan of Tracy Morgan, Bruce Willis, and Kevin Smith. I never want to see them ever work together again. They have no chemistry. Cop Out is a buddy cop parody with the comedic timing of a dead horse. Labeling it a parody suggests some intelligence behind the stitch-work of broken scenes and poorly executed jokes. No such sentience is at work here. Cop Out aimlessly references and quotes popular films from the past, but relies on the lamest aspects of 80s buddy cop movies to hold its 'plot' together. 

That 'plot' has the two detectives, Paul (Tracy Morgan) and Jimmy (Bruce Willis), trying to track down a rare baseball card that a robber named Dave (Sean William Scott) stole from Jimmy. Jimmy needs it so he can afford to pay for his daughter's wedding. Paul is having problems of his own. He thinks his wife Debbie (Rashida Jones) is cheating on him. Why she wouldn't, I will never know.

Paul and Jimmy are perhaps the two most incompetent detectives since Johnny English. They can't even sneak into a house without causing a ruckus. For comedy to work, on some level you have to believe in the setup. I don't buy that Morgan and Willis have any crime solving skills, nor do I believe they have been partners for nine years. They don't seem to know each other at all. 

Morgan has earned a lot of mojo for his strong performance in NBC's 30 Rock, but his delivery is rushed and sloppy as Paul. Willis is equally out of place, playing Die Hard's John McClane one moment and a stumbling fool the next. Director Kevin Smith adds to the unfunny with sluggish camera work that perpetually misses the duo's comedic cues, further ruining what are already bad jokes. His slow editing also slows the film to a snail's pace through its lengthy 112 minute runtime.

For a film that makes fun of buddy cop movies, it plods along like the worst of them. Even the relatively energetic songs that fill the first half of the film fade into to a droll of electronic melodies as Paul and Jimmy go on a slow hunt for the MacGuffin (a baseball card). Really, the whole production should have been a made-for-TV movie. It's certainly shot like one. Its villain, Poh Boy, is best known as Guillermo, a drug dealer in Weeds. He doesn't diverge from his gangster persona, but isn't menacing enough to terrorize the big screen. 

There are a couple redeeming moments in the film. Adam Brody and Kevin Pollak are fantastic as Paul and Jimmy's rival detective team. I wish we could have followed them for two hours instead. Susie Essman, who is best known for screaming at Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm, also adds some much needed comedy to the mix. 

What can I say? I'm disappointed. I don't expect much from writers Robb & Mark Cullen. They're best known for writing on TV shows like Las Vegas, and Cop Out would have made for pretty standard TV. Kevin Smith doesn't have this luxury. Until now, I've enjoyed most of his films, but Zack and Miri Make a Porno looks like Schindler's List compared to Cop Out. What happened, Kevin? Did you fire your editors?

I can't recommend Cop Out. It may not offend everyone's senses, but it certainly won't stimulate them.

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