Since his ultra-low budget 1994 debut, Clerks, writer-director Kevin Smith has forged his reputation and cult status with potty-mouthed comedies, which celebrate the unspoken bonds of friendship between men. No better is this exemplified that the misfit characters of Jay and Silent Bob, who wreak havoc in many of his films. Smith brings those same sensibilities to bear on the action comedy Cop Out, about a pair of NYPD officers on the trail of a stolen baseball card. Unfortunately, the indie filmmaker is working from someone else’s script for a change, and try as he might to wring laughs from Robb and Marc Cullen’s lifeless words, Smith is on a hiding to nothing.
A Cop Out indeed…
The screen chemistry between Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan is inert, the latter playing a motor-mouth who conducts interrogations of suspects by stealing lines from his favourite movies. “It’s called homage. It’s French for, ‘Let me do this’,” he tells Willis, who looks as cheesed off as we quickly feel. The conflation of crime thriller and buddy comedy doesn’t gel and Smith is poorly equipped to energise the occasional action sequences including a shoot-out and a car chase through a cemetery that culminates in one vehicle driving into an open grave and the baddie being thrown through the windscreen into a gravestone. At least he is spared another 60 minutes of torture.
More buddy, less comedy
Veteran detective Jimmy Monroe (Willis) is struggling to make ends meet and to pay for the exceedingly expensive dream wedding of his daughter, Ava (Michelle Trachtenberg). So he plans to sell his mint condition trading card of Major League Baseball star Andy Pafko to a local dealer but the card is stolen by stoner thief Dave (Seann William Scott). While Jimmy and partner Paul Hodges (Morgan) hunt for the card, they clash with strait-laced colleagues Hunsaker (Kevin Pollak) and Mangold (Adam Brody) and become unwittingly embroiled in a turf war started by Mexican gang leader Poh Boy (Guillermo Diaz). A beautiful Mexican woman called Gabriela (Ana de la Reguera), who doesn’t speak a word of English, holds the key to bringing down Poh Boy, presuming Jimmy and Paul can keep her alive.
Tracy Morgan, indoor voice please…
Cop Out is neither funny nor exhilarating, grating on our nerves every time Morgan opens his mouth to launch into one of his character’s pointless musings. When Poh Boy’s goons open fire on Paul, only the most generous viewers will be hoping he doesn’t take a bullet. Emotions rarely trouble Willis’s face as the plot lurches towards the inevitable showdown with the bad guys and Ava’s nuptials. Humour falls flat again and again, like Paul chasing after a suspect clad in a foam mobile ‘phone costume. The NYPD should open an urgent investigation into how such a talented filmmaker could produce such drivel.