Movie Review: Cop Out- An Awfully Unfunny “Homage” to the Buddy Cop Genre

Some directors in Hollywood really know how to cash in on one select success and turn it into a career of pure mediocre material that hangs on the edge of decent almost falling into the abyss of horrible. Director, actor, and writer Kevin Smith has certainly banked off the cult success of Clerks and made himself a known entity in Hollywood willing to sport childish humor, dirty scenarios, and foul language in a select few memorable achievements. However, in the last 10 years or so, ever since the lazy theological film Dogma, Kevin Smith has utterly failed at making an even semi-decent film and has completely lost all sense of subtlety, awareness, and control over his projects, which accumulates in his horridly idiotic new film Cop Out. Supposedly an “homage” to the buddy cop film genre, Cop Out results in little to no laughter leaving a strangely awkward and resentful experience. To put it as nicely as possible Cop Out is about as funny as watching domestic abuse, but even that might have better, and more realistic, writing. The awful script is written by Brothers Mark and Rob Cullen who have no ability to make a discreet homage or actual clever reference to any cop drama nor are their characters written any better. What makes the whole experience even worse is the unevenness of Kevin Smith’s direction for the actors, set ups, and script coherency. But what can one expect when they place Tracy Morgan in a feature film since he already gets annoying after 5 minutes in his overrated show 30 Rock. Two hours of Tracy Morgan and a seemingly bored Bruce Willis and uncaring Kevin Smith results in an unfunny and blatantly low brow theater experience.

Could the film have been any better if Kevin Smith had written the script himself? Perhaps, but don’t look to Jersey Girl, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, or Zack and Miri Make a Porno for any positive indicators. Smith was a populace success in the 90s with over acclaim for Mallrats, Chasing Amy, and Dogma, which all have some minor humorous moments but nothing monumentally original or clever. Right off the bat Cop Out tries to be self-referential as Tracy Morgan’s unconvincing performance as a legitimate cop that they would allow on the force for 9 years begins to recite lines from various films he watches on television as he interviews a suspect. Having a cop that tries to idolize what he sees in the movies was done much better in Edgar Wright’s Hot Fuzz. In fact, if you want to see a comedy about two cops just go rent Hot Fuzz since that has more credibility in one of its scenes as not only a legitimate comedy but utilizes wit and cleverness in its script to reference other films in a much better fashion. Cop Out is essentially about two police detectives, a bored and effortless performance from Bruce Willis and an annoying and overstated Tracy Morgan, trying to bust a known drug dealer, all the while Morgan’s character is overly jealous of his wife and Willis is trying to pay for his daughter’s wedding. The plot is neither special nor unheard of but what is new here is the disrespect Kevin Smith does have for the police considering he allows his protagonist to make really questionable and unethical decisions, such as bargaining with a notorious drug dealer over a baseball card that is rare enough to be sold and pay for the expense of his daughter’s wedding. It wouldn’t be so bad if the script were actually convincing of its scenarios and, well, funny. But as a comedy Cop Out fails on many levels, overstating the parody and understating the actual jokes, making each scene in between bland action and hopeless comedic delivery seem drawn out, awkward, and unmoving.

There are a few words that can describe the progression of the film and those are bland and boring. Clearly they are practically synonyms but they can describe the varying moods an audience member will go through during this film rather well. The acting from a majority of the cast, including Jason Lee and Rashida Jones, is quite bland while the story and all of the elements that go into providing the structure and progression is insanely boring. It almost seems as though Kevin Smith didn’t even care about this film. He might have had fun making it but there is no ounce of feeling in how the jokes interplay or how the characters develop. One might say that a comedy doesn’t need character development, a point that is well noted, but here Smith is blatantly trying to examine sympathies for Bruce Willis’ character and the lack of pay he has in his job in order to give his daughter the wedding she deserves, though there is no visual aid nor character traits that suggest that she does indeed deserve it. Once the director loses all faith and desire in his project the rest falls from under since it is his job to endear his cast and crew as to why this film should be made. Comedies that are decent are now one in a million, with a select few accomplishments this last couple of years. Kevin Smith has lost the momentum or whatever he had that made him a unique presence in Hollywood and has delivered idiotic schlock for the past 10 years. Someone needs to either take him away from the director’s chair or open his eyes to the mediocrity he keeps creating film after film.

So were there any funny moments throughout Cop Out? A few moments made this particular writer smirk, but nothing close to outward laughter. Sean William Scott was surprisingly the funniest part about the film in the select few scenes that he’s in. The quote montage in the beginning has moments of humor but would have been better if they had worked in a bit of subtlety into the mix instead of just blurting out overly familiar lines and have Bruce Willis confirm which film they are from. In fact, Tracy Morgan spurting out Willis’ own famous line from Die Hard is one of the worst self-references from a film in recent memory since John Travolta having a Royale with Cheese in From Paris with Love. Simply put Cop Out is just not particularly funny or well made. Perhaps the screen presence of many known actors and comedians could have carried the film in an enjoyable way but it was uncomfortable to watch considering that none of the jokes were landing in the way they were intended. This might end up being the worst comedy of the year until Hot Tub Time Machine makes its way into the theaters but even that has more humorous trailer moments than Cop Out had through the entire film.

Comedy is usually about taking the familiar and turning it on its head making fun of what we all know to usually be true. Kevin Smith used to be able to make these sorts of films, either with the customer working environment in Clerks to the relationships in Chasing Amy. But now Smith sits comfortably as a known directing entity and doesn’t have to worry about proving himself anymore when he needed to as an independent artist per se. When one loses the ability to believe in their own work nobody will follow suit, which is why Cop Out is just a film that was made just to be made with no real comedic intention in mind. It results in a less than average experience that has practically no laughs throughout the entire drawn out film. It has boring action, bland dialogue, uninteresting and undeveloped characters, and awkward in between scenes that annoy the audience rather than proceed with the already watered down story. Save yourself the money and don’t see this movie and if you really have the urge to see an actual hilarious cop comedy than just rent Hot Fuzz or Deadly Impact (that last one is a joke just in case you didn’t get it).

Grade: D

One Response to “Movie Review: Cop Out- An Awfully Unfunny “Homage” to the Buddy Cop Genre”
  1. Nice write-up! I was excited to see Cop Out till I read the negative reviews the past couple days. If anything I’ll probably check it out when it gets released on DVD.

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