Sunday, March 14, 2010


This uninspired police procedural comedy of errors from "Clerks" director Kevin Smith and TV scribes Robb & Mark Cullen teams action icon Bruce Willis up with "30 Rock" comic Tracy Morgan as two N.Y.P.D. homicide detectives who tangle with a gang of trigger-happy Hispanic drug dealers. Smith's previous comedies were coarse, loquacious, low-budget efforts about losers on the fringes of society. As classic as "Clerks," "Dogma," "Chasing Amy," and "Zack and Miri Make a Porno" are, these imaginative but niche comedies never scored big bucks at the box office, so Smith decided to helm a formulaic genre piece that he knew his father would appreciate. Interestingly enough, Smith didn't pen the screenplay as he usually does, but the film bears visages of his irreverent humor. "Cop Out" (** OUT OF ****) qualifies as a predictable mainstream law & order thriller that delivers fewer thrills than it does gags. The marginal humor is at times crude, especially an interrogation room scene, but you won't find yourself laughing out loud at some of the jokes that Smith's usual characters, Jay and Silent Bob, would crack or pranks that they would perform for their gross-out hilarity. Half-comic and half-dramatic, this 107-minute, R-rated feature lacks memorable characters in memorable predicaments. Reportedly, "Cop Out" is a homage to 1980s' cop movies with the stereotypically intolerant captain who complains to his overzealous underlings about their questionable actions. Another allusion to 1980s cop movies is the charismatic but hardly classic Harold Faltermeyer synthesized score that the composer of "Top Gun" and "Beverly Hills Cop" came out of retirement to contribute to this undistinguished opus.

Detective Jimmy Monroe (Bruce Willis of "Die Hard") and Detective Paul Hodges (Tray Morgan of "The Longest Yard") have been partners for nine years. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine who would tolerate an idiot like Paul. During the questioning of a suspect at the outset, Paul enters the interrogation room and tries to masquerade as a crazed gunman. A peanut gallery of spectators on the other side of the interrogation room window chuckle as Paul struggles to get the suspect to open up. Jimmy shakes his head incredulously as Paul quotes movie dialogue in his tough guy act to loosen the suspect's tongue. Surprisingly, Paul's lunatic performance succeeds, and the suspect spills the beans about Latin drug dealers. Our heroes stake-out the suspect's cell phone store. Unfortunately, not only does the Latino ice the suspect with a submachine gun, but also he eludes our heroes so that they look like amateurs. Predictably, Captain Romans (Sean Cullen of "Cop Land") chews them out because they lost the suspect and shot-up the neighborhood. Moreover, Romans suspends both Jimmy and Paul, because their slipshod antics fouled up two of their fellow detectives, Hunsaker (Kevin Pollak of "Deterrence") and Barry Mangold (Adam Brody of "Jennifer's Body"), who were investigating the Hispanics.

Captain Romans' suspension could not have come at a worse time for our protagonist. Jimmy learns that his daughter, Ava (Michelle Trachtenberg of "17 Again"), wants a dream wedding and her stepfather Roy (Jason Lee of "Dogma") wants to foot the $48-thousand dollar wedding if Jimmy cannot pay for it. Jimmy insists on paying for it. He decides to sell a collectible baseball card of National League player Andy Pafko that is worth of bundle. Jimmy takes the baseball card to a dealer, but he loses it when a light-on-his-feet thief, Dave (Seann William Scott of "Role Models"), knocks Jimmy down with a tazer during a daylight robbery and pinches the card. Ironically, Paul is standing out front the entire time jabbering on his cell phone with his wife without the slightest idea what is happening inside the store.

Meanwhile, an ambitious Spanish drug dealer decides to take over some new territory. The baseball card thief sells Jimmy's card to this murderous Mexican (Guillermo Diaz of "The Virgin of Juarez") who is obsessed with baseball memorabilia. Poh-Boy--as he is called--has a BMW that thieves have stolen out from under the noses of his henchmen. Poh-Boy agrees to fork over the baseball card if Jimmy and Paul can get his car back. Several people get shot along the way, but Smith doesn't wallow in blood & gore the way a real 1980s movie would have. Indeed, "Cop Out" is no white-knuckled, "Lethal Weapon" type, high-octane cop saga. Kevin Pollak and Adam Brody are okay as the second-string pair of sartorial cops that shadow our heroes. The only decent gag that Smith handles with finesse concerns Paul's jealous behavior about his gorgeous wife. Paul suspects that his sexy spouse, Debbie (Rashida Jones of "I Love You, Man") is having an affair with a hot young stud next door so he puts a teddy bear with a nanny cam in their bedroom to monitor her.

Basically, Willis and Morgan kindle little chemistry with their sophomoric shenanigans. They walk through this lackluster shoot'em up with Willis as the gruff, seasoned partner who doesn't need a moron like Paul. Paul cannot say homage right and Smith milks this joke far beyond its use. The death of Poh-Boy detracts from his overall villainous stature because our heroes eliminate him with far too much ease. The plot really gets wacky when Jimmy bails out Dave, the baseball card thief, and sends him into Poh-Boy's house to recover his card. The usually agile thief slips and knocks himself out cold, so cold in fact that our heroes believe that he is dead. This set-up provides the best joke that Smith plays out during the end credits. "Cop Out" conjures up forgettable characters, forgettable situations, and consistently forgettable gags.

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