© 2010 Ray Wong
Let's keep it simple: Cop Out is cut straight from the mold of buddy-cop comedies such as 48 Hours and Lethal Weapons.
Detectives Jimmy Monroe (Bruce Willis) and Paul Hodges (Tracy Morgan) have been partners in the NYPD for nine years. They know each other probably better than they know their respective families. They're working on a drug case and something goes very wrong, so they're suspended for thirty days. Meanwhile, Jimmy needs the money to pay for his daughter's wedding. He decides to sell his prized baseball card instead of being humiliated by her wealthy stepfather.
Then Jimmy gets robbed by a thug named Dave (Seann William Scott). After tracking down Dave, they realize the card has been sold to a drug dealer named Poh Boy (Guillermo Diaz), who happens to be behind the case Jimmy and Paul were working on. When they try to negotiate with Poh Boy, they find that the drug dealer is involved with more than drug trafficking.
Bruce Willis (Surrogates) is basically doing a funnier version of his Die Hard alter-ego. There's nothing wrong with that, since he owns that character. Willis seems to have a lot of fun playing goofy, especially with Tracy Morgan (G-Force), who is also playing a variation of his character on 30 Rock. They have great chemistry together, though, and that's what really matters in a buddy cop comedy. The friendship between Jimmy and Paul seems genuine. In fact, there are moments where Jimmy should have beaten the crap out of Paul, but he didn't. It shows us the bond between the two are closer than that of real brothers.
Seann William Scott (Role Model) has third billing but his role is a minor one. They're setting him up as the third banana (probably in future sequels), someone like Joe Pesci in Lethal Weapons. However, despite some funny moments with Willis and Morgan, his role is too peripheral and annoying. Guillermo Diaz (No Exit) plays viscous drug lord Poh Boy with flair. He's quite interesting to watch and makes the "bad guy" one of the most memorable in the film.
Mexican beauty Ana de la Reguera (Empire State) is lovely as a hostage who holds the key to capturing Poh Boy. She has a few funny lines, too, albeit in Spanish. Jason Lee (Alvin and the Chipmunks) is dutifully smug as Jimmy's daughter's stepfather, and Rashida Jones (I Love You, Man) is in great form as Paul's neglected wife. Rounding out the cast are Kevin Pollak (Tropic Thunder) and Adam Brody (The Ten) as a pair of cops who are, like, the counterpoints of Jimmy and Paul.
Written by brothers Robb and Mark Cullen (Las Vegas), the script follows pretty closely to the buddy cop formula. The plot is contrived and convoluted, only to serve as the background for the characters to bicker and fool around. However, they also seem to have written the roles specifically for Willis and Morgan -- they fit the actors perfectly. The strength of the screenplay is definitely not in story or even dialogue, but in the relationship-building and the antics between these characters. Clearly, they have "franchise" in mind when developing these characters -- the plot is secondary. The relationship is the meat.
Director Kevin Smith (Zack and Miri Make a Porno) finally gets to do a "mainstream" film. There are still traces of Smith's trademarked smugness and pervasiveness, what with the dirty jokes and perverse, potty humor. But Smith also succeeded in following the formula and not straying from the proven genre. At times, the editing and flow seem to suffer from too much wandering, but Smith is able to snap the story back to its main focus and pull the threads together.
While there's nothing original or unpredictable, it is funny -- due to its likable cast -- and will satisfy fans of the genre. It may be standard entertainment, but it's not a complete cop-out either.
Stars: Bruce Willis, Tracy Morgan, Seann William Scott, Guillermo Diaz, Jason Lee, Ana de la Reguera, Kevin Pollak, Adam Brody, Rashida Jones
Director: Kevin Smith
Writers: Robb Cullen, Mark Cullen
Distributor: Warner Bros.
MPAA Rating: R for pervasive language, sexual references, violence and brief sexuality
Running Time: 107 Minutes
Script – 7
Performance – 7
Direction – 7
Cinematography – 7
Editing – 7
Production – 7
Total – 7.0 out of 10