Just keep hummin’
Starring Bruce Willis, Tracy Morgan, Seann William Scott, and Kevin Pollack. Directed by Kevin Smith
Do you remember a decade dubbed “The Eighties?” From the TV show “Miami Vice” to movies such as “Lethal Weapon,” “48 Hours,” and “Beverly Hills Cop,” the entire decade was in no shortage of polar opposite police detectives (one batshit crazy, loose-cannon –type and the other straight-laces, by-the-book) pissing off their superiors, throwing the rule book out the window, solving the biggest crime/case in the history of the department, and returning heroes. Since it was the Eighties, this was all accomplished to a synth-pop soundtrack that would generally have such artists as Glenn Frey, Bob Seger, or a plethora of unknown artists providing a soundtrack just for that movie.
Such is the “vibe” that “Cop Out” tries regaling to. Tries. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but what exactly would a bland homage be? Let me expound:
Jimmy Monroe (Willis) and Paul Hodges (Morgan) are NYPD cops who have been partners for 9 years (at least by the Terms of the Script). When the movie opens they are about to interrogate a Hispanic witness arrested for “holding” drugs for a local dealer. Hodges begs and pleads with Monroe to interrogate the guy because Monroe knows he can’t. He gives in and Hodges gets to not so much interrogate but entirely confuse the suspect by first trying to pass off as a criminal then segueing into lines from such films as “Heat,” and “Training Day,” which would be funny except that a) you have to find Tracy Morgan’s babbling idiot cop character funny and b) you have to understand what the hell he’s saying. Eventually the guy who is less fortunate than us (Juan Carlos Hernandez being interrogated) gives in and a sting is setup.
The sting goes down –wrong. The informant is shot up by Uzi and Hodges, dressed in a cellphone costume, goes after him on foot while Monroe chases him by car. The guy gets away and Monroe and Hodges are suspended because a) Hodges stole a bike from some kids (the video of which winds up on YouTube) and b) by not coordinating with other parts of the department they undid months of work by the drug division. They turn in their badges and guns and have to take 30 days without pay.
And we we’re introduced to the cops’ respective worlds. Monroe is divorced and his only daughter is about to get married. Her “dream wedding” will cost $48,000 and like any proud father, he wants to cover that cost or rather he DOESN’T want it covered by her step-father Roy (Jason Lee) who compares the cost to “a weekend in Las Vegas.” Jimmy is pissed and pulls out his last card –the card- a 1952 Topps #1 Andy Pafko. Having heard that someone sold one at an auction for $83,000 Monroe is convinced that he can trade it in for at least a cool $50k which would more than cover his daughter’s wedding.
Paul has his own problems as well. Outside of failing attempts at being cute and humorous (even by the terms of his wife), he’s insecure. Paul is sure that his wife Debbie (Rashida Jones) is having an affair on him with the next-door neighbor (Michael Pitt). He’s so consumed with the idea that he buys a teddy bear with “hidden” a video camera inside to record the goings-on of his bedroom. If that’s not enough, while he’s on the phone talking with his wife two burglars rush into the store where Jimmy is trying to sell his card and taser him and the store owner before taking off with the card and some cash.
Jimmy and Paul find out that one of the robbers is Dave (Scott) and track him down, following him to a residence he’s about to burgle. Using a method called “parkour” (“the physical discipline of training to overcome any obstacle within one’s path by adapting one’s movements to the environment” –Wikipedia) Dave scales to the second story window of a house, gets inside, and uses the bathroom. Jimmy and Paul lay on the grass of a sand dune, watching it all with binoculars before springing into action. They catch Dave and after building a rapport via interrogation Jimmy discovers that the card and Paul’s gun were sold for drugs to local drug kingpin Poh Boy (Guillermo Diaz).
Gone are the days where dealers had class, or were at least debonair and a bit classier (in a Pablo Escobar sort of way). Poh Boy is a) named after a Cajun sandwich and b) a thug. Maybe he’s “b” because of “a.” Anyway, a Mercedes that Poh Boy owns was hijacked and he can’t find it. It’s important. Jimmy needs his baseball card back so he can sell it and pay for the wedding. The two strike an unofficial deal and go their separate ways… for the moment. A kidnapped girl (Ana de la Reguera) inside the gangster’s car has the answer as to why Poh Boy needs the car: she’s carrying a flash drive (inside a crucifix necklace) that contains information that would help Poh Boy expand his East Coast operations. When Poh Boy takes her hostage, it’s up to Jimmy and Paul to get her back, retrieve the baseball card, win back the admiration of their fellow officers, and make it to the wedding.
And it’s largely unfunny. Strike that; boring. And bland. Tracy Morgan and Bruce Willis have little, if any, on-screen chemistry. I’m not saying that watching paint dry is more interesting than watching them act, but it is far less painful than watching Morgan. In some alternate universe Tracy Morgan may actually be funny (it would probably be the same one in which Dane Cook is HILARIOUS). This is one of those films in which nearly all the funny parts really ARE in the trailer, only Smith took the dialog and transplanted the lines into different scenes. The rest of the “funny” in this supposed comedy goes to Seann William Scott, who appeared to be the only one in the entire film having a good time.
This is the third strike from director Kevin Smith who, after forcibly growing up since “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back,” continues his boring comedies without regard to whether or not they’re any good. “Jersey Girl” was okay, “Clerks II” was as needless as it was pointless, and to quote Spill.com on “Zack and Miri Make a Porno,” “only Kevin Smith can make the making of a porno this boring.” Seriously man, what’s up? Smith is making the types of films that the characters in his own View Askew universe would chastise him for. Maybe he’s sitting at 14:59:59. For all of you who still have faith in Smith please remember that “Clerks” was released in 1994, which as of this writing is 16 YEARS AGO.
And maybe I’m being a bit harsh. After all, this is the first time that Smith has directed a movie for a Studio. He didn’t write the script. So on and so forth. Well, “Insomnia” was the first Studio film by director Christopher Nolan (after doing “Memento”) and he got better. Maybe I’m comparing apples to oranges here; maybe Smith deserves another chance. I’m just not going to pay money to see it in a theater.
A small bit of kudos for the fact that Smith got Harold Faltermeyer to do the soundtrack. It doesn’t always work (mainly because the film is 20 years too late) but it’s nice to know he cared/tried. Aside from that you’re better off re-watching “Hot Fuzz.” At least THAT’S funny.
My grade: C-