"Cop Out" wants to be "Beverly Hills Cop" in the worst way. But the film is not "Beverly Hills Cop." Rather, it's "Beverly Hills Cop III" -- a misguided, painfully mundane, unfunny, dreary reflection of a much better film.
Cop Out (2010)
Directors: Kevin Smith
Writers: Robb Cullen (written by) & Mark Cullen (written by)
Features: Rated R for pervasive language including sexual references, violence and brief sexuality. Running Time: 112 Min. In U.S. theaters: Feb. 26, 2010.
Bruce Willis ... Jimmy Monroe
Tracy Morgan ... Paul Hodges
Cory Fernandez ... Juan
Sean Cullen ... Captain Romans
Kevin Pollak ... Hunsaker
Adam Brody ... Barry Mangold
Guillermo Diaz ... Poh Boy
Michelle Trachtenberg ... Ava
Jason Lee ... Roy
Francie Swift ... Pam
Rashida Jones ... Debbie
Seann William Scott ... Dave
Ana de la Reguera ... Gabriela
Reserve your tickets for "Cop Out" at Fandango:
In theaters: February 26, 2009.
"Cop Out" wants to be "Beverly Hills Cop" in the worst way. The producers followed the formula (with a dash of "Lethal Weapon"). They brought on a rising black comedian as the star (Tracy Morgan). Paired him with a hardass detective (Bruce Willis). And gave him a mystery filled with drug lords, action, family turmoil, intrigue, and goofy set pieces. Director Kevin Smith ("Clerks II") even brought on composer Harold Faltermeyer, who's electronic beats in "BHC" earned him recognition in the form of several prestigious awards, not to mention a steady stream of work throughout the 80s.
But "Cop Out" is not "Beverly Hills Cop." Rather, it's "Beverly Hills Cop III" -- a misguided, painfully mundane, unfunny, dreary reflection of a much better film.
Originally titled "A Couple of Dicks" -- a title that fits the tone of the characters much better -- "Cop Out" is trying to be at throwback to the good old fashioned buddy cop movies of the 80s, but it's more akin to the miserable '90s buddy cop dreck that drove the genre straight down the drain and right to the bottom shelf of the your local video store (think films like "Bulletproof," "National Security" or "Blue Streak"). The ideas feel washed up. The characters are cut so thin they barely make sense (and they're not particularly likable, either). And the fun feels forced -- a series of hit-and-miss sketches, most featuring the love-it or hate-it stylings of funnyman Morgan -- strewn throughout a narrative tied together entirely by sheer coincidence.
In other words, "Cop Out" is awful. Painfully awful.
Since the picture's theatrical (and Red Band) trailers do a terrible job setting this ridiculous story up, here's a token bit about the plot. Two detectives, long-time partners Jimmy and Paul (Willis and Morgan), are suspended after accidentally getting their CI killed, and botching a long drawn-out case two other detectives (Adam Brody and Kevin Pollack) were working on. Since Jimmy is trying to pay for the lavish wedding of his daughter (Michelle Trachtenberg), he decides not to tell her, or his ex-wife and her snooty new husband (Jason Lee). Same goes for Paul, who's already on thin ice with his wife (the sexy, but sorely underused Rashida Jones) after suspecting her of cheating on him.
The next day, Jimmy and Paul get together as though nothing is wrong. They head down to a small hobby shop where Jimmy plans on selling an old baseball card. The place gets robbed and Jimmy's card is stolen.
Knowing that this card is the key to paying for his daughters wedding, the two suspended cops attempt to track down the thief, played by Sean William Scott (the film's best asset even if he is basically playing the same character from "The Rundown").
They manage to locate him through a few illegal maneuvers, and low and behold, this thief answers to the man responsible for killing their CI, a drug lord named Poh Boy (a shockingly inept Guillermo Diaz, who apparently didn't get the memo that the film WAS NOT a plucky spoof).
Poh Boy also happens to be an avid collector of baseball paraphernalia, and he's holding Jimmy's card prisoner. How convenient. Now it's up to Jimmy and Paul to stop the bad guy, save the girl (I won't even bother to go into this, it's way too convoluted for a simple summation), save Paul's wobbly marriage and get Jimmy's baseball card back.
In short, it feels like a 12-year old wrote "Cop Out."
The story, from Robb and Mark Cullen, is asinine, oddly bypassing the "origin" story formula, and heading straight for the lazy sequel. It's filled with holes in logic and crafted around two unlikable heroes who share very little chemistry together. Just about every rule and law known to man is broken by this un-dynamic duo, too. It's shocking this script was once listed as one of Hollywood's best unproduced scripts. Makes you wonder what other garbage is floating around Tinseltown.
Anchored by Smith's amateur, unfocused, and frankly, immature direction, the film feels like an imitation rather than an homage. Smith seems to have no idea how to craft his narrative into something of substance or how to give context to his story and characters while shaping his homage. Even Faltermeyer's score is misguided, placed in scenes that don't require music.
How this typically solid filmmaker failed so miserably here is puzzling. Perhaps the absence of Smith's long-time friend and producing partner Scott Mosier is the key to this film's misguided story and execution?
But "Cop Out" will inevitably have it's fans. Lovers of Morgan's "30 Rock" character Tracy Jordan will inevitably chew up his silly one-liners and slapstick gags, even if Morgan is stunningly overused and overextended in the film. And those drawn to low-brow, low-grade humor will find the film's potty-flavored gags an absolute gas. But if you're looking for a well written, fresh and funny throwback to classic buddy cop movies, well, look elsewhere. This isn't a throwback to a genre we all know and love, it's a bad imitation -- something that belongs on the DTV market. Nothing more. Nothing less. And that, folks, is the real cop out.
Film Report Card:
Entertainment Value: C-
Film Value: D
Recommendation: Wait for video.
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----R. L. Shaffer