Kevin Smith may have trouble squeezing into an airplane seat, but he’s got no problem filling the director’s chair for his latest film, Cop Out. The film puts an R-rated comedic spin on the buddy cop genre with Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan starring as veteran NYPD officers attempting to track down some stolen baseball cards. Unfortunately, Smith was able to derive more entertainment from his recent Southwest-bashing tweets than he was from this feature film.

The Players:

The Plot:

Jimmy Monroe (Bruce Willis) and Paul Hodges (Tracy Morgan) are a pair of veteran cops who’ve just been suspended for a sting gone awry. This is bad news for Jimmy because a lost salary will prevent him from paying for his daughter’s upcoming wedding, so he decides to sell a vintage baseball card to pay the bill. But things go from bad to worse when he’s robbed during an attempted sale, so he and Paul take off on a madcap journey to find his stolen card that leads them into the underbelly of the New York Drug Trade.

The Good:

  • Seann William Scott: He’s come a long way from his Stifler Salad Days. Scott has morphed into the type of actor who’s just good in everything, flashing an ability to inject more humor into a scene than it deserves. That talent is on full display here as he knocks an unscrewed small-time thief out of the park in his too limited screen time.
  • The Action Pieces: It may seem strange that a film that’s ostensibly nothing more than a screwball comedy would have some fine action, but those moments actually deliver with shootouts, car chases and other moments from the cop movie playbook pulled off with stunning accuracy.

The Bad:

  • The Deficiency of Subplots and Characters: Listed above is the plot of this film. That plot is given about 70% of the movie’s total running time. The rest is slammed with characters that come and go for a few minutes and subplots that pop up seemingly only to fill time. None of these support the main story in any way or provide an entertaining divergence.  They only serve to distract from the story and kill the scant momentum the plot builds from time to time.
  • Paul Hodges: I don’t want to condemn Tracy Morgan because he does an admirable job of playing this character. In fact, he does a very good job considering the way Paul is written to completely change from line to line. At one point, he’s a real cop who knows what he’s doing and at another, he’s an absentminded detective who wouldn’t know which end of a gun to use. This is a guy who needs to be taken seriously for the movie to really work, but thanks to the inconsistent writing of the character, the audience never has any idea what to make of him.
  • The Lack of a Consistent Tone: Cop Out can never really find its lane. It shifts constantly, darting into heavy drama, family drama, slapstick comedy, referential comedy, crime thriller, and police procedural from scene-to-scene. Is it a comedy with elements of a police movie? Is it a crime thriller that happens to have funny people in it?  Is it just a complete mess that fails to establish a focus or set an overall tone? The answers: No, No, Yes – A Big Yes.


Cop Out is simply a mess. It can’t find a tone, it can’t keep its characters in line, and it can’t decide if its main storyline is worth interrupting with a subplot or an ancillary character – the latter two constantly being throw in slapdashedly throughout the film. It fails in every genre into which it moves. It doesn’t work as a mystery, it doesn’t work as a buddy picture, and it certainly isn’t funny enough to work as a comedy relying on tired gags and lame movie references for much of its humor. This is the type of film that might serve as an adequate distraction on an airplane, but in all other movie watching situations, it should be avoided at all costs.

Rating: 3/10

Cop Out opens in wide release on February 26, 2010

***There is a funny scene that plays during the closing credits – so stick around afterwards.***

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Will you go see Cop Out this weekend?