Tuesday 21 September 2010

COP OUT DVD review

Out now on DVD and Blu-Ray is Kevin Smith's new comedy, Cop Out.
More after the jump...

After being suspended from duty, partners Jimmy (Bruce Willis) and Paul (Tracy Morgan) decide to sell Jimmy's valuable baseball card to pay for his daughter's wedding. When Jimmy gets caught in a chance hold-up by Dave (Seann William Scott), the pair must get the card back from Poh Boy, the local gangster who's now added it to his collection of sporting memorabilia. To add to their troubles Paul's wife might be cheating on him with the neighbour and they've just found a woman in the trunk of their car.

Despite its unnecessarily convoluted plot points, it's a formulaic cop mystery that sees a somewhat mis-matched pair of detectives work their way around the local underworld in search of their missing MacGuffin. Along the way they interact with a variety of criminals, often using their police training to steal what they need from unwitting bystanders. They're not exactly the best cops in the world, getting the job done by breaking the law repeatedly.

Despite what the cover would have you believe, this is an even hander between Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan. Just because Bruce Willis is the bigger star, it doesn't mean he's the star. Tracy's lovesick detective has all the best lines and is perhaps the main reason to watch this film, as he provides a lot of the comedy. He's also got the (marginally) more interesting story too, as his jealousy and paranoia over his cheating wife trumps the search for a poxy baseball card anyday.

Kevin Smith fans will appreciate the winks and nods to other cop films (Robocop, Die Hard, etc), but there's not as many self-referential moments as you'd expect from a film by Smith. This is the first film he's directed that's not also been written by him, but this script does share some common ground with his work.

There's some sparky dialogue between the two leads, but the problem is that no-one seems to have told Bruce Willis he's meant to be the straight man. Bruce Willis has always been better at being the action star, and his comedy timing goes no further than a knowing smirk. Tracy's the loudmouth simpleton (not really a stretch for Tracy Morgan) who is eager to offer his opinion on anything, supplying enough zeal to fuel a rocket. They're obviously aiming for Shane Black territory between the two leads, but the film's dialogue rarely reaches further than Kevin Smith's trademark smut.

Even the soundtrack doesn't completely work. They've wheeled famed 80's synth composer Harold Faltermeyer (Beverly Hills Cop, Tango and Cash) out of retirement to give the film a touch of classic 80's buddy cop nostalgia. It was a nice idea, but it often comes across as more parody than homage.

Apart from Tracy and Bruce, there's some excellent support work from Seann William Scott's hapless burglar, who damn near steals the entire movie. It's juvenile beyond belief, but his character has a habit of repeating what the other characters say, just as they're saying it. It's a character trait that Scott takes from funny to annoying, and then back again.

Cop Out never quite manages to reach the quality of the 80's buddy comedies it so liberally apes, but there's some laughs to be had. It's definitely not one of Kevin Smith's best, but it's an easy if not too memorable watch. Tracy Morgan is the highlight, and there's an interesting enough relationship between him and Bruce to keep the film ticking over nicely until its sarcastic climax.


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