by Del Harvey
Available on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD, On Demand and for Download 7/20.
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Something is wrong. The cop buddy film has lost all its audience appeal. Is that because so many television shows have been using this formula for so long? Or is it that today’s audiences want more special effects in their films? Whatever the case, I was pleasantly surprised by Cop Out.
After a rather dull beginning spent on character development, the film’s plot finally kicks in and things start becoming more interesting, and more funny. This may have something to do with the film’s director, Kevin Smith. While Smith is exceptional with quirky and small comedies, he tends to be a bit overwhelmed with big budget fare (Jersey Girl, Zach and Miri Make A Porno). Not that those films are bad, but they aren’t his best work. In this film, which turns out to be something of a parody and an homage to 80’s buddy cop films, Smith manages to overcome some of his personal tendencies by the end of the first act and the result is a competent, enjoyable comedy feature.
Tracy Morgan and Bruce Willis star as two dogged cops who can’t seem to stay out of trouble. Their names don’t matter much. They could easily be Murtaugh and Riggs or Cagney and Lacy. Really, it makes no difference to the story. One is the older, more experienced cop whose dedication to the job has all but ruined her personal life and driven his wife and daughter away from him and into the arms of a more stable man. The other is the cop approaching the mid-term of his career, verging on becoming as overworked and alienated as his mentor. Which is too bad, because he has an attractive and loving wife waiting for him at home every night (Rashida Jones).
But all of this is irrelevant; the real story begins when Willis tries to sell his beloved Topps’ baseball card to pay for his daughter’s (Michelle Trachtenberg) dream wedding. Two loony hold-up artists rob the memorabilia shop and make off with the expensive card and Willis’ gun. Willis and Morgan track down one of the crooks (Seann William Scott), who has already traded the vaunted prize for some drugs. Which leads our heroes to the lair of one Po Boy, an up-and-coming drug dealer whom they have been sparring with for the past few months. They are forced to do a deal with this devil in order to rescue the card and save Willis’ rep with his doting daughter.
It goes on from there. But it’s really not as bad as I had heard. In fact, it was really pretty fun. In fact, Seann William Scott’s scenes are some of the funniest in the film. His interaction with Morgan is priceless. Morgan creates some nice comic business around his character’s over-jealous nature and paranoia that his wife may be having an affair with the neighbor. And there’s a nice bit of tongue-in-cheek as Willis continually accuses his partner of quoting every cop film ever made during interrogations. Also filling the gaps with some decent comedy bits are their rival cop buddies, played by Kevin Pollak and Adam Brody.
Eventually, the film finds its way back to its 80’s buddy cop roots and we get into the action with plenty of gunplay and shootouts. Smith manages to pull off the unimaginable as a director for hire making a good film out of someone else’s script.
Released on 7/20, the film is available on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD, On Demand and for download. For more information, click here.
Del Harvey is the founder of Film Monthly, a film teacher, a writer and a film critic in Chicago.
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