Cop Out, 2010.
Directed by Kevin Smith.
Starring Bruce Willis, Tracy Morgan, Sean William-Scott and Adam Brody.
Paul Hodges and Jimmy Monroe are suspended from the police force, but they are unable to escape the job when a Mexican drug lord steals one of their valuable baseball cards.
If it wasn’t Kevin Smith, I don’t think I’d have enjoyed it as much. Even if it was exactly the same film, but made by someone else, I wouldn’t have cut Cop Out so much slack. It’s kinda like when your friend makes something and you think it’s a lot better than it really is.
But there’s no harm in that. If you follow a director throughout their career, especially one as polarising as Smith, you’re bound to feel more protective (and thus have a more favourable perception) of said person’s films. Do I like Weezer’s ‘Raditude’? Hell no. But do I give it a lot more leeway than I would to albums by other bands? Considerably.
Bias declared. Absolved of all following skewered opinion.
Paul Hodges (Tracy Morgan/Jordan) and Jimmy Monroe (Bruce Willis) are partners in the New York City Police Department. They’re a bit reckless, and goofy, but they solve crimes. The film opens on them bickering behind the two-way mirror of an interrogation room. Hodges wants to play ‘bad cop’ this time; he never gets to play ‘bad cop’. Monroe concedes and Hodges proceeds to pretend he’s an extremely dangerous, escaped prisoner, bursting into the interrogation room with an empty gun as a prop. For fun, Hodges begins to act out scenes from famous films. He quotes lines from The Color Purple to Training Day. “Yipee ki yay,” he screams at one point. “I haven’t seen that one,” remarks a smiling Willis on the mirror’s other side.
There’s a lot of character groundwork done in these opening scenes. We learn Hodges is obsessively paranoid that his wife may be having an affair, and that Monroe needs to claw together $45,000 to pay for his daughter’s dream wedding. Otherwise her stepfather will. Monroe isn’t the sort of guy who wants his daughter’s stepfather paying for anything.
Hodges has an anniversary card for Monroe. They’ve been partners for nine years, and it shows in their comfort with one another. The two argue constantly, but are the first to leap to each other’s defence. It’s often against their two rival, by-the-book detectives in the department, uniting together in a tirade of trademark Kevin Smith cock put-downs. Not many other films devote this much time to fleshing out their characters.
They get suspended because of a botched operation. Without pay. Monroe needed that money for the wedding. On hard times, he elects to pawn his father’s treasured baseball card. Its worth is not only sentimental. Dedicated collectors would pay up to $90,000 for one that rare. The masked men just about to rob the pawnbrokers just want it for drug money.
In their attempts to get the baseball card back, Monroe and Hodges get deeper into a criminal underworld of drugs, kidnapping and murder. It’s all in good spirit, though – the characters they encounter are far too cartoonish to make anything overly serious. There’s New York’s most notorious car thief (a foul mouthed ten-year-old) and a hyper-annoying parkour burglar played by Sean William Scott (provider of all the film’s funniest moments). Scott can play idiot as good as anyone out there. He should get a lot more work.
And there’s the evil villain, Poh Boy (“which is fun to say”), an evil, Latino, baseball fanatic. Every scene he graces shows him torturing/executing a different henchman who has failed him. One is used as baseball-target practice in Poh Boy’s basement. Again, it’s hard to be truly scared of him because of his embellishments, but you certainly don’t like the guy. You want Monroe to get his baseball card back. Credit to Smith for making the storyline matter.
Cop Out owes an obvious debt to Beverly Hills Cop, Beverly Hills Cop II and Beverly Hills Cop III. It’s mainly to do with the synthy music score, but there’s the spirit of the 80s lurking beneath its characters and plot. Overall, it’s not great – but it ain’t bad either. It’s a happy waste of 90 minutes. And you know what? Sometimes that’s fine.
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