Underwhelming Cop Comedy
It isn't difficult to see what director Kevin Smith was going for with Cop Out. With its police detective partners -- one white (Bruce Willis), one black (Tracy Morgan) -- its drugs-and-gangs plot, relaxed pace, smart-aleck attitude, and Harold Faltermeyer soundtrack (the man responsible for the soundtrack of Beverly Hills Cop), the movie is a knowing nod to the cop flicks of the '80s. And in case this wasn't going to be clear for you, the movie practically spells it out during Morgan's tirade about paying homage to old cop movies.
Although the idea behind this film may have potential for fun, it's not very compelling. At the most, you might get a harmless valentine of a movie. But Cop Out appears saddled with plenty of other problems, not the least of which involves its hit-and-miss script by brothers Mark and Robb Cullen. Yes, it's the first time Smith isn't directing one of his own scripts, but that doesn't absolve him from culpability. The movie brakes every so often for a dose of Smith's usual juvenile humor, but it gets old pretty quickly when applied to protagonists who are supposed to be seasoned policemen. Speaking of which, one's mileage may also vary regarding Willis and Morgan. Willis looks like he's on auto-pilot, knowing it isn't a serious role (and really nothing more than a straight man) and just kicking it as easily as he can. Meanwhile, Morgan seems on comedy overdrive, which isn't pretty. Basically, he's got the Eddie Murphy role, but Murphy made such parts smart and edgy while Morgan comes across as just whiny, which proves tiring. Eventually, Seann William Scott appears, and the little kid humor reaches a groan-worthy low.
The result? Cop Out feels like a half-baked concept halfheartedly executed. Smith manages to work in some of his warmer trademarks -- the bond between good buddies and the pride of a father -- to go along with the spotty comedy, and that lends the movie an air of good nature, which might be the most one can say for an otherwise underwhelming effort.
(Released by Warner Bros. Pictures and rated "R" for pervasive language including sexual references, violence and brief sexuality.)
Review also posted at www.windowtothemovies.com.