I want you all to know that, if I mysteriously disappear sometime inthe next few days, it was probably Kevin Smith.
Thing is, I'm about to say some bad things about his latest movie. Ofcourse, we critics do this all the time and face no repercussionswhatsoever, with the occasional exception of getting challenged toboxing matches by Uwe Boll. But this is the Internet. If you invokeKevin Smith's name online, he has the habit of appearing, BloodyMary-like, to dole out his vengeance in ways that would shock anddismay even the most tubgirl-hardened Internet denizens.
So let it be known, Mr. Smith, I much liked both Clerks moviesand Mallrats, and just earlier today a tale of poor drivingallowed me to drop the line about the bear from the Clerkscartoons. But to paraphrase a line from Futurama, there's partsof Kevin Smith's work I like and parts I don't like. Cop Out isamong the latter.
After fouling up a drug investigation, play-by-their-own-rules copsBruce Willis and Tracy Morgan are suspended without pay for a month.Struggling to pay for his daughter's wedding, Willis tries to sell anultra-rare baseball card, but gets robbed on his way to the buyer byfancy-stepping thief Seann William Scott.
Willis and Morgan's unauthorized pursuit nabs Scott. But he's alreadysold the card — to violent drug maven and massive baseball fanGuillermo Diaz, the thug behind the investigation that cost Morgan andWillis their badges.
The first few seconds of Cop Out are pretty funny. Then Morgan,who's usually pretty great, spends a minor eternity bellowing quotesfrom other movies at a suspect while Willis helpfully rattles offwhich film each quote is from. This establishes two things: 1) CopOut is some sort of homage to the buddy cop movies of the '80s,and 2) it's a ridiculous goddamn mess in desperate need of a rewriteand a much crueler editor.
It's got genuine laughs, yes. This must not be overlooked. But forevery laugh, there are 10 groans or that little swooshy sound a rollingpair of eyes makes if you get your ear up real close to them. A lot ofthe gags feel tired, faddish.
Not to mention the whole "buddy cops tearing across town in aconsequence-free environment" thing is so played out I swear I'vetyped this exact sentence before. (A shiny quarter to whoever digs itout of the archives first!) Director Kevin Smith makes an effort toremind us this is an homage to the genre instead of an uninspiredrecycling job, but there's no rearrangement of the Beverly HillsCop theme powerful enough to turn Cop Out into the kind ofloving spoof Shaun of the Dead was for zombies.
Besides, if that was the goal here, that movie's already been made!It's called Hot Fuzz, and it's great.
Cop Out's shotgun-blast approach to comedy — some hits, moremisses, a great bloody mess — isn't assisted by writers Robb and MarkCullen's meandering plot. Their story is looser than the waistband ofthe boxers you've been wearing for the last week. Add these factorstogether and its 107-minute duration feels as long as a lifetime.
Not a human one, either, I'm talking elves, and have you ever seen anold elf? No. The same "No" you'd supply to the question "Other thanmaking you laugh at a fraction of its jokes, does Cop Outsucceed at any of the things it sets out to do?"