There are quite a few less then favorable reviews of Kevin Smiths new flick “Cop-Out” and this is not one of them. Is it a great film? Is it with out moments of mediocrity and awkwardness? No. Despite it’s minor flaws “Cop-Out” is a homage to the interracial buddy cop films of the 80’s (Lethal Weapon, 48hrs) and delivers to which it parodies. It’s a fun ride that will pistol whip you with hilarity and will remind you of a sub genra once forgotten.
The plot, which is a little silly but doesn’t really matter with these types of buddy cop films: Detective Paul Hodges (Tracy Morgan) a cartoonish, motor mouthed, simpleton with a gun and his tough, world heavy partner/friend of 9 years Jimmy Monroe botch a major bust are swiftly suspended for being renegade cops who play by their own rules. This couldn’t have come a worse time, because Willis’s daughter (Michelle Trachtenberg) is about to get married and he needs to raise $50,000 to pay for her big day. So he bites the bullet and is about to sell his father’s priceless rare Andy Pafko baseball card when a drug-addicted parkour enthusiast (Seann William Scott) steals the item and sells it to a drug lord named Poh Boy (Guillermo Diaz). This sets in motion a comical chain of events in which Willis and Morgan try to retrieve their stolen property, catch the bad guys and, if time permits, prove that Morgan’s wife (Rashida Jones) isn’t cheating on him.
As with any Kevin Smith film, it’s not about the plot but the exchanges between characters. Morgan carries on like a lunatic while Willis smirks his way through it. It’s a classic schtick but it’s a rapport that works. These two stars certainly build on the framework of Robb and Mark Cullen’s script. It may be a wonder how much of the jokes, gags and one liners were derived from the script or ad libbed by these two stars. There are a couple of sufferable moments of ad libbing from Tracy Morgan which run on and on. Particularly a rant on pooping at home which could have been left of on the cutting room floor. For the most part Willis and Morgan carry their weight with witty partner banter, but are handily upstaged every time a terrific Seann William Scott pops up as a goading, goofball jerk of a perp. Scott is not the only scene stealer. A foul mouthed car stealing 10 year old, a crazy trigger happy Italian woman (Susie Essman) who will kill you for dirtying up her her floor, and a questionably gay narc team (Adam Brody and Kevin Pollak) add to this laugh out loud action trip. So it’s suffice to say the laughs are a plenty but they are often too far in between a dull and slow moving script. The long stretches between comedy gives us time to dwell on how ridiculous the plot of hunting down a baseball card is. Also gives us time to realize the lack of character development of the supporting cast. Michelle Tractenberg as Jimmy’s daughter with Jason Lee as her douche stepfather; Rashida Jones as Paul’s perhaps cheating wife are severely under used.
What about the action? Well, there is only 3 major action scene. One in the beginning with Willis and Tracy Morgan chasing a drug dealer. Another in the middle with the drug dealer chasing them. And a big shootout at the end. Is it Micheal Bay type action? No, but Kevin Smith has clearly matured as a director buy showing that he can move the camera. Minus the lackluster gun fight in the end he does the job competently. More than that, though, the film is a brilliant throwback to the glory days of such 80’s buddy cop franchises as “Lethal Weapon” and “Beverly Hills Cop. It delivers in witty banter, ridiculous situations and action. Even the soundtrack oozes that 80’s synthesized vibe. It’s good to see composer Harold Faltermeyer (Beverly Hills Cop) getting work again.
Is action Kevin Smiths forte? No. Did he prove he can do it? Well, yes. Should he maybe stick to being a screen writer? Perhaps, but it’s funny to see that the man who made “Clerks” made a polished studio film such as this. It’s a sign of maturity more than selling-out.