Cop Out Wears Its Juvenile Humor Like a Badge of Honor
- Christa Banister Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2010 26 Feb
DVD Release Date: July 20, 2010
Theatrical Release Date: February 26, 2010
Rating: R (for pervasive language including sexual references, violence and brief sexuality)
Run Time: 107 min.
Director: Kevin Smith
Actors: Bruce Willis, Tracy Morgan, Juan Carlos Hernandez, Cory Fernandez, Kevin Pollak, Adam Brody, Michelle Trachtenberg, Jason Lee, Rashida Jones
In what's supposed to be a cheeky homage to ‘80s crime-fighting fare like Beverly Hills Cop, Lethal Weapon and of course, Die Hard, Cop Out is nothing more than a 107-minute string of bad jokes without the benefit of a punch line.
In fact, to put just how bad this movie is into perspective, it makes the 2004 remake of Starsky & Hutch (yeah, the one with Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson) look downright Oscar-worthy in comparison. And for anyone who's seen that, well, you know that's really saying something.
Even in Starsky & Hutch's lamest moments, you could still believe that Stiller's and Wilson's characters were the sort of good-hearted, charming dim-wits who would do anything for each other without much regard for the ensuing danger. That, of course, is far more than I can say for the awkward pairing of Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan as Jimmy and Paul, two inept NYPD officers with a severely limited vocabulary of nasty four letter words and a talent for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
For whatever reason, these "buddies" have no buddy chemistry, which is essential to making a crime-oriented comedy like this work. While Morgan is essentially a carbon copy of his annoying 30 Rock character, Willis is all steely toughness and clearly not having much fun at all—even when he's forced to smirk. And with a script this unfunny and devoid of any well-crafted action sequences, that's not much of a surprise.
What is surprising is that funny guy Kevin Smith (Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Jersey Girl) was the man behind the lens. Perhaps hoping to transition out of Indieland into the mainstream where filmmaking budgets are more plentiful, Smith, the pre-Apatow king of raunchy comedy, was wise to remind everyone in the Twitterverse that Cop Out wasn't his film. Instead the writing duties were relegated to brothers Robb and Mark Cullen who penned a few episodes of TV's Las Vegas, and the sheer lack of big-screen sophistication is apparent from the get-go.
In case the audience didn't get the "joke," the opening scene is a desperate plea for laughs when Paul decides that it's his turn to finally be the "bad guy" and interrogate a suspect (a task that usually belongs to the far-more-menacing Jimmy). In the process, he reverts to every bad cop cliché that's ever been said in the movies (cue the bust-a-gut laughter). But whether he's borrowing from Robocop or Scarface, the results are inevitably the same, lackluster.
Funny or not, the interrogation does yield some valuable information that sets the "story" in motion, namely the identity of a known drug dealer. Determined to bring him to justice, Jimmy and Paul immediately get to work. As you probably suspected, the job's way too big for them, and they severely botch the operation after a high-speed chase turns deadly. Needless to say, the boss ain't happy.
After a major vocal rebuff from the higher ups, the guys are suspended without pay, a move that puts a cramp in Jimmy's plans to pay for his daughter Ava's (Michelle Trachtenberg) dream wedding. Fueled by angry pride when his ex-wife's new husband (Jason Lee) offers to pick up the tab, Jimmy decides to part with his most-prized baseball card to make up the difference, a piece of cardboard so valuable, it'll fetch 80k, which will pay for the wedding and whatever else Jimmy needs, too.
Just as Jimmy is about to collect his big payout, a thief conveniently breaks into the sports memorabilia store he's selling the card to, tasers Jimmy (naturally, Paul is talking on his cell phone and misses the whole exchange) and Jimmy's in the proverbial pickle. Oh what will he do, and more importantly, will you care?
With no money in the bank and too much pride to let the new husband win, Jimmy decides there's nothing to lose by pursuing the bandits, even without his badge, his own guns or his boss's consent. And so goes the haphazard journey that is Cop Out, an overly long, violent romp with no rhyme, reason or anything resembling redemption by movie's end. If anything, it'll give you a far greater appreciation for Cop Out's predecessors, the flicks with the benefit of laughs, action and a story that the Cullen brothers are lamely trying to borrow from.
Drugs/Alcohol: The case that Paul and Jimmy were investigating revolves around illegal drugs. A smooth-talking bandit steals the baseball card from Jimmy so he can buy them. Alcohol beverages (rum, scotch, etc.) are shown but aren't consumed on-camera.
Language/Profanity: In true Kevin Smith movie fashion, the "f" word is used—and often. We're talking close to 100 times here. In addition, God's and Jesus' names are misused on multiple occasions, and sh—is also used repeatedly. In one scene, an 11-year-old car weighs in with a string of expletives that's particularly disturbing because, well, he's 11. And bodily functions aren't off limits in terms of good taste, either. There's a long-running commentary about a thief who likes to use his victim's bathrooms for rather stinky purposes.
Sex/Nudity: Paul believes his gorgeous wife Debbie (Rashida Jones) is cheating on him, so he installs a nanny cam (a video camera hidden inside a teddy bear) in the bedroom. To teach Paul a lesson about jealousy, Debbie dresses up in sexy lingerie and stages a love scene with someone who turns out to be her cousin (who happens to be gay). In an earlier scene, Paul says he has "an oral fixation" which sets the stage for numerous sex jokes in the future. There's plenty of crass talk about sex, including rude slang used for genitalia, references to gay sex and discussions of what "naughty" activities Paul recently watched on Animal Planet.
Violence: Several shootings including one where someone is killed with an automatic weapon (blood is sprayed on the wall). When Poh Boy hurts his victims, he does so in a particularly brutal fashion—execution-style. When he wants to simply torture people, he enlists the help of a batting cage, allowing the baseballs to bruise and bloody the body. There's also multiple groin hits, a scene where Jimmy is tasered and a scene where Paul and Jimmy chain a thief to the back of their car and drive down the road.
Religion: Although his life doesn't mirror his beliefs, Poh Boy goes to mass and prays to God for forgiveness for the sins he's about to commit. He even kills someone in the church right after uttering those very words. Scripture is read at Ava's wedding, a brief respite before the characters kick back into the usual expletive-spewing gear.
Christa Banister is a full-time freelancer writer, specializing in music, movies and books-related reviews and interviews and is the author of two novels, Around the World in 80 Dates and Blessed Are the Meddlers. Based in St. Paul, Minn., she also weighs in on various aspects of pop culture on her personal blog.
For more information, including her upcoming book signings and sample chapters of her novels, check out her Website.