Monday, March 8, 2010

Cop Out

I used to enjoy Kevin Smith movies, I really did. They were chocked full of foul-mouthed wise asses with enough of a bitter streak that I felt like we could be friends. Sadly, those days are fading into the rearview mirror. Zack and Miri Make a Porno had moments, but moments are not enough to carry a film career.

And now we have Cop Out, which kills any lingering interest I still had in watching a Kevin Smith movie. Granted, it might not be entirely his fault. I don’t think the script gave him much to work with, and I walked away feeling like maybe he owed money to screenwriters Mark and Robb Cullen (who’s career highlight reel includes episodes of Las Vegas and Gary the Rat), or maybe they pulled his near lifeless corpse out of a freezing river and he directed their movie to repay some sort of life debt.

Cop Out really is a waste. There are so many reasons why it could work. First and foremost, Bruce fucking Willis. Right there you have my attention. Tracy Morgan can be funny. I even like Sean William Scott, based solely on The Rundown, which is awesome. But there is nothing to redeem this movie.

Willis and Morgan play Jimmy Monroe and Paul Hodges, cops who, despite having been partners for nine years, spend most of the movie acting like they just met each other. They don’t play by the rules of the stuffy old police department, and get suspended without pay for a month. Now Jimmy can’t afford to pay for his daughter’s $48000 wedding. Does a New York cop really make enough money that one months salary will cover that? He has to sell his prized possession, an $80000 baseball card, or else his ex-wife’s smarmy new husband (Jason Lee) will pay for the wedding and Jimmy will look like jerk.

But all does not go smoothly. Before Jimmy can sell his card it is stolen and, through a needlessly complicated series of events, winds up in the hands of a baseball memorabilia collector/drug kingpin of Brooklyn, Poh Boy (Guillermo Diaz). If you couldn’t tell Poh Boy means business from his sinister sounding nickname, the dollar sign on the back of his hand should tell you. I think it is supposed to be a tattoo, but it looks like they drew it on with Sharpie. As a matter fact, every tattoo in the movie looks like they drew it on.

Somehow Cop Out is almost two hours long. I don’t know why. There is so much that should have wound up on the cutting room floor. The subplot with Sean William Scott, the most inept parkour practitioner in the entire world, is only there so he can tell knock-knock jokes and repeat everything that Paul says. Seriously, it’s like watching a retarded man argue with a parrot. Kevin Pollack (Usual Suspects) and Adam Brody (The OC) play boot-obsessed, by-the-book cops with a vendetta against Jimmy and Paul. Paul is consumed with the idea that his wife, Debbie (Rashida Jones), is cheating on him, and mostly you just feel bad for her because her husband is such a complete turd. There is also a girl in a trunk of a stolen car. Most of this should be hacked out of movie with a fucking machete. It wouldn’t make Cop Out good, but it would make it mercifully shorter.

I like dick and fart jokes. I’m a sucker for crude, juvenile humor. I find poop, urine, and boners endlessly hilarious. Cop Out tries to employ this kind of comedy, only to fail miserably. This just goes to show that even dumb, sophomoric humor, isn’t easy to pull off, because they fuck it up on a grand scale. The only person laughing in the theater was a fifteen-year-old kid there with his mom. And even he didn’t laugh that much.

You can tell the writers thought they were being super-duper funny and clever. You can almost see them sitting around going, “Hey, you know what would be super funny, guys? There’s a car thief, and it turns out to be a ten-year-old kid. Boo-Yah!” You know what? They were wrong, dead fucking wrong.

The banter between Willis and Morgan is forced, and during the first scene where Paul interrogates a drug suspect using only lines from other movies, they feel the need to pause between each quote and tell the audience what movie it came from. Do Smith and the Cullen boys really think that no one else saw Scarface or Training Day? It feels like they’re talking down to the viewers, like they don’t have enough faith in movie fans to get a reference.

It is obvious that the filmmakers wanted Cop Out to be an homage to movies like 48 Hours and Beverly Hills Cop. They even got Harold Faltermeyer (Tango & Cash, Top Gun, and The Running Man) to lend his signature synthesized scoring abilities to the movie.

Here is a list of important lessons we’ve learned from Cop Out. Just because you’ve seen a lot of movies, and you make your stoner buddies laugh, doesn’t mean you should write a movie. Bruce Willis, though he may be a god among men, shouldn’t do comedy. Tracey Morgan is only funny in small doses as a supporting character. (Cop Out actually feels like one of his make believe movies from 30 Rock, and I wondered for a while if the filmmakers originally intended to do something like make a fake trailer for one of those movies and somehow took this steaming shit instead.)

Cop Out simply doesn’t work, on any level. Every aspect of this movie is like fingernails on a chalkboard, a gloriously unfunny chalkboard.

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