Directed by Kevin Smith. Starring Bruce Willis, Tracy Morgan, Adam Brody, Kevin Pollak, Seann William Scott, Michelle Trachtenberg, Guillermo Díaz, Jason Lee, Rashida Jones, Ana de la Reguera. (2010, R, 113 min.)
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., March 5, 2010
I'm really hoping that Kevin Smith picked up enough comic material during his recent fracas/hullabaloo/altercation with Southwest Airlines to generate a scathing fusillade of vitriolic satire aimed at the airline industry – Jay and Silent Bob Get High(er), maybe? – because it's going to take a serious amount of classic Kevin Smithery to purge the sub-fun Cop Out from fans’ memories. What was supposed to be a Smithy homage to 1980s-style buddy-cop action comedies à la 48 Hrs. is instead a painfully unfunny series of been-there/seen-that sequences that have all the comic oomph of Another Stakeout and all the bone-busting action of Kuffs. This is not the Kevin Smith who crafted the profane and powerfully human comedy Chasing Amy and Dogma. It's seemingly not even the Kevin Smith who directed the saccharine but tolerable (thanks to George Carlin) Jersey Girl. This is like some Bizarro World Smith film in which, following the indie success of Clerks, the director took the money (had there been money, that is), ran straight into the gaping maw of Hollywood mediocrity, and never looked back. Cutting to the chase, plotwise, Cop Out (which once had the far superior working title A Couple of Dicks) pairs Willis and Morgan as unlikely (yet satirically clichéd) Brooklyn detectives Monroe and Hodges, respectively, nine-year veterans of the NYPD who've just been hit with matching 30-day suspensions. Monroe, the "bad" cop to Hodges' "goofy” cop, is facing a nearly $50,000 price tag for the wedding of his daughter (Trachtenberg), leading him to sell his beloved 1952 Topps Andy Pafko baseball card. However, he's deprived of even that chance at financial semi-independence when he's mugged by Dave (Scott), which forces Monroe to align with Pafko's new owner, a Latino drug boss (Díaz) who has issues of his own. From here on out, it gets even stranger. To be completely fair to the director, this is the first Kevin Smith film not actually written by Kevin Smith, and boy, does it show. There is plenty of scatological and sexual dialogue, particularly from Morgan's character, but very little of it has the zip and zing and dirty delight of previous Smith screeds. Co-screenwriters Robb and Mark Cullen have desaturated Smith's colorfully profane verbal theatrics to the point that they seem tired instead of inspired. What we're left with, then, is an equally tired and wearisome buddy-cop movie that might as well be a forgotten leftover from the era of Turner & Hooch. Now there's a film with classic Kevin Smith scrawled all over it.