Funny ‘Cop Out’ a refreshing entry in buddy-cop genre

Published On:
Friday, February 26, 2010
Printer-friendly version

Movie: “Cop Out”
Starring: Bruce Willis, Tracy Morgan
Rating: R
4 out of 5 pitchforks

“Cop Out,” starring Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan, looks really stupid. It isn’t.

It’s really funny.

Why?

Because, as almost all previews fail to mention, it’s directed and edited by the Southwest Airlines-hating Kevin Smith, the guy who brought us “Clerks,” “Dogma,” “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back” and “Mallrats.”

Only with those films he was the writer/director, making the movies wholly his own creation.

With “Cop Out,” Smith takes a break from his usual methods, letting Rob and Mark Cullen take over the writing duties. The brothers’ past works consist of a whole lot of writing for television, most recently the show “Las Vegas.”

The “buddy cop” type of film has been done countless times, as has the “young, fresh guy meets, hardened old-school character” dynamic. But really, what tale hasn’t been told numerous times before? Recycled stories aren’t a problem, as Americans have shown by spending billions on “Avatar” at the box office.

It’s not what you’re doing — it’s how you’re doing it. And Smith knows how to get it done. As does Morgan, Willis and Seann William Scott. Scott, although in a small role, manages to steal the show.

The cast of this movie is great, with Kevin Pollack, Adam Brody, Michelle Trachtenberg, Jason Lee and Rashida Jones all occupying small parts in the film. That, my friends, is the pulling power of Smith in action.

If you’re a fan of “30 Rock”, you know that Tracy Morgan’s specialty is playing the dumb guy who has his sporadic moments of gleaming intelligence. Doing just that in “Cop Out,” Morgan, as Paul Hodges, a New York detective who recently got his badge suspended, plays his character off as a little crazy while staying grounded enough to almost be believable.

The chemistry that he and Willis, as Jimmy Monroe, Hodge’s partner who is in the same predicament, have on screen is both delightful and rib-tickling to watch. They play off each other so well, with Morgan testing the boundaries — no doubt using his improvisation skills — of how far his character can go. Meanwhile, Willis calmly and coolly draws the line, yet at the same time allowing himself to be made fun of.

The soundtrack is cheesy and the action scenes are exactly what you’d expect: loud gun shots, over-the-top violence, breaking glass and the whole shebang. They are the weakest points of the film, but, being a cop movie, are viewed as necessary by Hollywood.

“Cop Out” is an R-rated movie all the way, with numerous genitalia jokes and constant swearing, both being Smith’s specialties. Also, as with all Smith films, there’s some heart to it, with Monroe being so madly in love with his wife that he is driven to extreme paranoia, eventually setting up a nanny-cam in his bedroom.

Smith does a good job of hitting your funny bone and pulling on your heartstrings while making it feel natural.

Ignore the fact that you’ve seen almost every element of this film before and forget about the terrible trailers that have been advertising the film to the wrong audiences.

This movie is an arrow and it hits its target. Sure, it’s not some fancy, new age compact titanium Nimbus 2000 arrow with fancy new, shiny features, but it still gets the job done. It’s supposed to be a funny, entertaining film and it is.

“Cop Out” is not Smith’s best work, but it is Smith’s work. In the world of buddy cop movies, it’s a standout and has no problem getting laughs.

Reach the reporter at pmelbour@asu.edu