Saturday, February 27, 2010

Cop Out review

My review of Kevin Smith's new flick, Cop Out. You can also read last year's interview with Kevin Smith here.


Starring Bruce Willis, Tracy Morgan
, Seann William Scott
Directed by Kevin Smith

Fans of lengthy, funny riffs on taking a crap, and other outbursts that straddle the Venn diagram intersections of silly, stupid, and wry, will find plenty of laugh-out-loud moments in Cop Out, Kevin Smith's ode to buddy-cop comedies. Those who aren't on board with shit-talking (literally) or don't have appreciate the humour of 12-year-old boys probably won't be charmed by a movie originally titled A Couple of Dicks.

Jimmy (Willis) and Paul (Morgan) are NYPD veterans, celebrating nine years as partners. In pitch-perfect casting, Willis is the relatively competent tough guy playing straight man to Morgan's clueless, puppy-dog mania. The pair are suspended without pay after botching a bust and letting a drug kingpin get away, leaving Jimmy in the lurch and on the hook for his daughter's dream wedding. (Smith fans will appreciate Jason Lee's extended cameo as the rich, evil step-father.) Through a series of appropriately convoluted coincidences, Jimmy and Paul are saddled with Dave (Seann William Scott), an infantile, drug-addicted parkour aficionado who embroils the duo in a Mexican gang leader's attempts to expand his drug empire.

There are also plenty of side plots, including a rival pair of dumb cops, the kidnapping of the aforementioned gang leader's feisty mistress, and Paul's insecurities (who knows why or where they come from) about his wife's faithfulness — or lack thereof. The script, by brothers Robb and Mark Cullen, is an ADD mishmash: Some of the subplots are wacky enough to entertain, but others fall remarkably flat, making the film drag rather than flow.

Cop Out is Smith's first time directing a script he didn't write, and unfortunately, his weaknesses as a filmmaker and editor are fully exposed. Cuts are choppy and chase scenes clumsily staged and/or poorly lit. On the bright side, Smith knows how to stage a shoot out, and he knows what's funny to his fans. The film's saving grace are its three stars, whose hilariously offhand scenes often feel gloriously improvised. Ultimately, Cop Out feels like a debut rather than the work of an established filmmaker, but perhaps this is Smith's first step towards breaking free of his arrested development. 

★★—Andrea Warner