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Friday, February 26, 2010

Kevin Smith's cop movie spoof has a few laughs, but never quite lives up to its potential.

Cop Out
review by Brent Sweeting

2 1/2 out of 4 stars

Even though this is the first film directed by Kevin Smith that he didn't write as well, his fingerprints are all over the movie. This will be a welcome surprise for hardcore Smith fans that were afraid he had gone "studio", but for people not familiar with Kevin's work, the large amount of crass dialogue and locker room humor will likely come as an unwelcome surprise. Unlike traditional cop buddy movies like "Lethal Weapon" or "Beverly Hills Cop", "Cop Out" is a comedy first, cop movie second, and it never really succeeds at either.

The original title of the film was "A Couple of Dicks" and it's a much better suited title for the film. The double entendre of the title, and its crass tongue in cheek nature would have made it a lot easier to tell in advance just what kind of movie this is. Unfortunately, as the rumors go, the networks refused to advertise the film before 9pm with that title. When the studio suggested that the title be changed to "A Couple of Cops", Kevin's appropriate response that the new title would be a "cop-out" ended up coining the title that ultimately stuck.

Like all of Kevin's films, the dialogue tends to call attention to itself (which isn't always a bad thing), and often several characters seem to speak with the same voice. There is something about the tongue in cheek nature of his directing style however, that seems to allow this to work. And man, actors must love working with Kevin, because well-known supporting actors and celebrity cameo appearances fill every movie he directs. Part of the fun of his movies is waiting to see what unexpected actor or celebrity will show up on-screen next. Aside from the main stars Bruce Willis, and Tracy Morgan (30 Rock), the cast includes Kevin Pollack (The Usual Suspects), Adam Brody (The O.C.), an exactly what you'd expect performance from Seann William Scott (Role Models), and those are just the ones with the largest parts. Kevin even managed to pull Harold Faltermeyer out of retirement to put together music that is an obvious reference to his previous work from "Beverly Hills Cop" including a Patty LaBelle song for the closing credits.

The script has floated around hollywood for a while now, and at one point was apparently considered as a vehicle for James Gandolfini and Robin Williams. It centers around two cops, suspended from the force for mishandling a bust, that end up in a hunt for a prized baseball card. Jimmy Monroe (Bruce Willis), suspended and broke, has an engaged daughter with her heart set on a $50,000 wedding. Jimmy will do anything to keep her new stepfather (Jason Lee) from showing him up by paying for it. While Jimmy doesn't have any money, what he does have is one of the first baseball cards ever made and it's worth more than enough to pay for the wedding. When Jimmy goes to sell the card, two bumbling thieves (one of which is Seann William Scott) hold up the store and steal the prized card. Jimmy and his partner Paul (Tracy Morgan) go after the thief, and in the process of following the trail of the card, they also deal with Paul's insecurities about his potentially cheating wife.

The problem in "Cop Out" lies in the fact that while all the actors seem to be having a lot of fun, none of them really commit to their characters or make them very real, so any real drama in this movie is lost. Because of the movies tongue in cheek spoofy feel, this would be okay if the film were hysterically funny. There are laughs here and there throughout the movie but nothing that is likely to really be remembered any period of time after leaving the theater. This is why "Cop Out" ultimately falls short of its potential. Never getting anywhere serious enough to instill any suspense or tension like traditional buddy cop movies, and at the same time never really nailing it as a comedy, "Cop Out" ends up being a mediocre run through a number of possibilities, but never really paying off like it could.


  1. Good Review. I didn't go see this because I couldn't stand the thought of sitting that long through anything with Tracey Morgan, even if he is a smart dude in real life. I take it because you don't mention Bruce Willis- he sucks in the movie. He would be the biggest draw for the age group that might see this. Thanks for the warning!

  2. This movie looks like every other average comedy. I think I'm gonna skip this one. Great review, though.

  3. I think you got the actors wrong, its actually Mel Gibson and Danny Glover who star in this film, and I think Joe Pesci was supposed to be in it but they got Seann William Scott instead.... ;-) what a Cop Out...