Monday, March 1, 2010

Rock Out With Your Cops Out

I didn't expect a lot. I wasn't expecting to walk out of Cop Out thinking that a new standard for film making had been set and that director Kevin Smith would not be too fat to win an Oscar. All I asked was that I be mildly amused as I sat in a dark theater on a snowy Friday night watching Smith's tribute to 80s buddy cop films. Did I get that? That fact that I had to ask that question pretty much answers it.

I wasn't asking for realism either. A movie like this certainly doesn't have to be realistic. Hell, most really fun movies aren't. A really fun movie makes you forget to ask questions like, "Why don't they just call for backup?" or "Could you actually outrun a fireball like that guy just did?" In the case of Cop Out, not only were there too few funny jokes to make you overlook a stupid plot but the plot achieved a level of stupidity normally only seen in porn plots.

It starts off with a bit of cleverness when we meet the two cops who, we assume, will at some point be out somewhere, Jimmy (Bruce Willis) and Paul (Tracy Morgan). Though he doesn't come off as being particularly bright, Paul does manage to come up with the idea to interrogate a suspect by pretending to be a an escaped felon hiding in the interrogation room. The first sign the movie was in trouble was that this bit went on too long. After that the two cops recruit the guy as an informant and manage through their utter incompetence to get the guy killed while his murderer gets away, an incident that leads to disciplinary action from their lieutenant. In movies like this you're supposed to be on the side of the street cop who sometimes has to bend the rules to get the job done. In this case, however, we witness their wise superior officer giving Jimmy and Paul the most justifiable "turn in your badge and gun" speech in the history of action films.

That's not where the dumb ends, though. We also get to see that they take the behavior that makes them shitty cops and apply it to their personal lives. Paul won't stop thinking that his wife (Rashida Jones) is cheating on him despite any real evidence that she's doing so outside of his vivid paranoid fantasies. This makes Paul the more rational of the two partners when we learn that Bruce Willis's Jimmy character insists on paying for his daughter's expensive wedding despite the fact that the total is ringing in at around $50,000 AND despite the fact that his ex-wife's new, well off husband (Jason Lee) has offered to pay for the whole thing. True, the new hubby is a douchebag but then again so is Jimmy. You'd think they'd form some sort of douchebag bond but that doesn't happen. This all leads to Jimmy's attempts to raise the cash that, while ridiculous, aren't particularly funny.

It's not that Cop Out is completely without laughs. There just aren't enough of them. It's a shame as it had all the elements required to make both a parody of and a tribute to old buddy cop films. You had the mixed race partners, the surly superior, the rival jerk cops and the scary ethnic villains. I was rooting for this movie but too many jokes fell flat.

Kevin Smith has more films in the works so maybe he'll redeem himself. Luckily, in a couple of years, we'll all be marveling how the guy who did a sucky film like Cop Out made the wonderful movie with this imaginative title.

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