Cop Out is evidence that less Kevin Smith is more
When I first saw the trailer for Cop Out, I thought it was a parody from 30 Rock. I was almost certain it was a reference to the fictional Tracy Jordan movie Black Cop White Cop. It was only when I saw that Tracy Morgan was billed by his real name that I accepted the fact it was a real movie starring Morgan and Bruce Willis and directed by Kevin Smith.
In typical buddy cop fashion, Willis plays Jimmy Monroe, the straight man to Morgan’s kooky Paul Hodges. The two veteran cops play by nobody’s rules but their own—much to the chagrin of the boss—but always manage to catch the bad guys. When Jimmy’s treasured baseball card is stolen, the two set out to find the card, stumbling into a kidnapping plot along the way.
I’ll admit, the fact that Smith directed the film made me instantly cautious. While Smith’s earlier work (Clerks, Chasing Amy, Dogma) was sharp, clever and entertaining, his recent films would be better described as a self-indulgent trip back to the well of Dante and Randal or Jay and Silent Bob. He was living proof that one person taking on several responsibilities, like acting, directing, producing, and editing can lead to Tommy Wiseau-esque results. In addition to his films, his Evening With Kevin Smith DVDs only escalated his douchiness, with Smith babbling for hours about bowel movements as his devoted flock of followers listened. Smith just kept moving farther away from auteur and closer to being that annoying kid in college who thinks he’s so much smarter than everyone else in class.
Thankfully, Smith did not pen the script for Cop Out. Instead, brothers Mark and Robb Cullen, who come from the TV world, wrote it with Smith taking on the roles of editor and director. Smith even stated that it was not his movie, and let’s be thankful for that.
Instead of drawn-out, dialogue-heavy scenes where characters discuss Star Wars for ages, Cop Out tells its story with shoot-em-up action. Practically every scene involves some kind of shooting, which probably merited the R rating far more than any potentially offensive lines.
Essentially, the film boils down to gunfights combined with Morgan’s unique comedic flavor. The opening scene with Paul interrogating a suspect using only famous movie quotes gets laughs solely because of Morgan’s delivery, however the scene has little to do with the rest of the film. Most of the funny dialogue isn’t really related to the plot and, while very amusing, seems better suited for a gag reel as opposed to a cinematic story.
All the comedic work doesn’t fall solely on Morgan’s shoulders and Seann Willam Scott brings the humor with his eagerly optimistic burglar. A scene with Scott in the back of a police car talking to Morgan and Willis is one of the highlights of the film. His character stands out in much the same way as Neil Patrick Harris’s cameo in Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle.
Thankfully, Cop Out was much better than I expected—but in all fairness, I expected Clerks 2 with a badge. I was definitely relieved to see that Smith’s chubby little fingerprints weren’t all over this movie. Morgan and Scott brought the comedy, Willis brought his trademark action, and the Cullen brothers brought a script that didn’t feature Dante and Randal. In the end, Cop Out proves that less Kevin Smith is definitely more.
30 Rock Seasons 1-3 Collection
Re-experience all of your favorite moments in this 58-episode box set of the Primetime Emmy® and Golden Globe® Award-winning show 30 Rock. Hailed by Entertainment Weekly as ?Simply the Best TV? and by your grandparents as ?confusing? and ?too fast.? Executive producer and writer Tina Fey stars as TV writer Liz Lemon alongside brash network executive Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin). Together they tackle the everyday chaos of a live variety TV show with unpredictable lead actors, Tracy Jordan and Jenna Maroney (Tracy Morgan and Jane Krakowski), and naïve NBC page Kenneth Parcell (Jack McBrayer).