Wednesday, November 24, 2010

"Cop Out" (2010)

Starring Bruce Willis, Tracy Morgan and Sean William Scott
Written by Mark and Robb Cullen
Directed by Kevin Smith

You know when people talk about a movie, sometimes they say "The best parts are in the trailer"?  When talking about Kevin Smith's "Cop Out," that's totally true

Jimmy Munroe and Paul Hodges (Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan) are New York Police Detectives, and have been partners for nine years.  Like with other buddy-cop pairings, there's the straight man and the crazy one - here, Jimmy is the straight man and Paul is the crazy one.  Jimmy allows Paul to conduct an interrogation wherein his entire routine is to simply shout lines from movies that sound threatening to the suspect.  Strangely, it works, and the two are tipped off to a deal going down very quickly that would allow them to make a sizable drug arrest.

Unfortunately, the bust goes bad; the suspect gets away and Paul is caught on video assaulting a bystander while dressed in a giant foam cell phone costume.  As a result, the two are suspended without pay.  This couldn't come at a worse time for Jimmy, who is struggling to pay for his daughter Eva's (Michelle Trachtenberg) wedding.  He decides to sell a vintage collectible baseball card worth some $80,000.  Things get worse when, while getting the card appraised by a local dealer, the store is robbed by a thug named Dave (Sean William Scott) who steals the card. 


Jimmy and Paul track down Dave and drag him behind their car until he reveals that he sold the card for drugs to a dealer named Poh Boy (Guillermo Diaz).  Poh Boy is in a similar situation - his car was recently stolen.  He makes a deal with Jimmy and Paul: find his car, and they'll get the baseball card back.  Jimmy and Paul steal the car from its new owner (Fred Armisen), but find that there is in fact a young woman named Gabriella (Ana de la Reguera) who speaks no English.  Eventually, they manage to discover that she has information on Poh Boy's expanding drug empire, information that makes the three of them targets.

While all of this is happening, anti-gang detectives Hunsacker (Kevin Pollack) and Mangold (Adam Brody) have been investigating a series of gangland murders that are leading them toward Poh Boy.  But it also happens to be leading them toward Jimmy and Paul, whom they begin to suspect might actually be dirty cops in Poh Boy's pocket.  Jimmy and Paul are going to have to protect Gabriella, keep Hunsaker and Mangold off their backs and bring down Poh Boy... oh and get back Jimmy's card so he can pay for his daughter's wedding.

"Cop Out" is a thoroughly mediocre action comedy.  It has a lot of potential, with a great cast and a talented director.  Even the script isn't that bad, but something holds it back.  There are a few scattered scenes that have a great, quirky energy, when the cast is really feeling the chemistry, when the script gives them some zingy dialogue and when Smith's direction brings it all together well.  And all of those scenes are in the trailer. 

Bruce Willis breaks out of his funk a few times to deliver some great moments, like drawing a penis on the two-way mirror of the interrogation room.  He's also quite good at reacting to Morgan's more absurd moments.  But there are also stretches of the film where he seems bored, which seems to be how Willis operates these days.  It's been a while since he's had that sparkle in his eye like while capping terrorists in "Die Hard." 

Tracy Morgan is one of the bigger problems with "Cop Out."  I never really liked him on 'Saturday Night Live,' or in anything else I've seen him in... except '30 Rock.'  There, surrounded by equally absurd characters, and propped up by some excellent writing, he does quite well.  Here, he's just outright inconsistent.  At times, he's just as batshit insane as he is on '30 Rock,' but at times he's more restrained.  At times, he's an incompetent buffoon... but at times, he's also a worthy detective.  His subplot involves paranoia over his wife's possible infidelity, but it mostly just feels like a waste of time and isn't all that funny to boot aside from a couple of scenes with Sean William Scott making jokes at Morgan's expense.

My buddy Ian said: "Cop Out" isn't bad, it's just not very good.  I can't really think of a more accurate description than that.  Parts of it work really well, but for the most part, it's a film that just doesn't gel.