His first release made inside the studio system, though explicitly pointed out to be a project he was merely hired to direct rather than truly his own film, Cop Out is another long overdue attempt for director Kevin Smith to break the mainstream.
Ironically titled after Warner Bros. backed out of plans to name the film A Couple Of Dicks, with Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan heading up the cast, Cop Out certainly makes for an intriguing prospect. Without Smith’s quirks in the script, however, whether it would be empty promise is another question.
About two incompetent bumbling cops, one hard man, Jimmy (Willis), and one wannabe hard man, Paul (Morgan), whom after working together for nine years as partners mess up an elaborate drug sting and are suspended without pay. And unsurprisingly it’s bad timing for the pair to be out of work.
With his daughter’s wedding quickly approaching, Jimmy needs to find $50,000 to save face and pay for the ceremony himself, so with no other option he resorts to selling his classic 1952 Andy Pafko baseball card. For Jimmy though even a simple trip to the brokers goes badly wrong, and held up by an even more incompetent, but armed, robber, Jimmy loses the card, and with Paul daydreaming outside while the thief makes his getaway, leaving an enviable task for he best of cops to get it back, never mind this pair.
Though Cop Out has taken a hard ride critically in the States, financially, while it wasn’t a roaring success, the film managed to make a reasonable profit and there is certainly a lot to like about Smith’s latest release. Cop Out isn’t the director’s funniest film, it’s not his script after all, but it will at least meet the quotient of laughs you need for a reasonable comedy and the entertainment is sustained throughout.
Though there are certainly a few pacing problems in the middle act, some of the interplay between Willis and Morgan is great and a handful of scenes will have you in raptures. It’s Seann William Scott, however, that steals the show with a hilarious performance of one-liners that at last seem to break him out of his Stifler role.
You get the sense much of the great dialogue was improved, and though Smith’s direction is fairly bland, especially in the handful of action scenes, he deserves great credit for orchestrating the wittier lines.
Cop Out is clichéd but just about gets away with it despite some lacklustre gags along the way. It certainly won’t become a cult classic but it’s a fair addition to the buddy cop genre and for a throwaway couple of hours you could certainly do worse.