Cop Out Review

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Maverick partners Jimmy (Willis) and Paul (Morgan) are kicked off a case without pay, which jeopardies Jimmy’s plans to pay for his daughter’s wedding. He decides to sell his prized baseball card, only to lose it to some Mexican gangsters. Now the crazy d


There’s a fine line between comedy and tragedy. Take, for example, Cop Out. After all, it purports to be a comedy. It stars Bruce Willis, who’s been known to deliver a droll one-liner or 20 in his time. It co-stars Tracy Morgan, a man whose every utterance on 30 Rock is designed to make you lose touch with your sides. It’s directed by Kevin Smith, who knows his way around great comedy dialogue. It should be a whipcrack, burst-half-the-blood-vessels-in-your-face gigglefest. And yet watching these talented comedians strain to wring even the tiniest laughs from leaden, moronic material crosses the aforementioned line. This is just tragic.

Part of the problem could lie with the fact that Smith didn’t write it — instead, the script was penned by Robb and Mark Cullen and was considered good enough to make the 2008 Black List, which gathers together the best unproduced scripts in Hollywood. How that happened is a complete mystery, for it’s an absolute clunker, witless and coarse, bulging with unlikable characters (the original title, A Couple Of Dicks, was apt) and forgettable dialogue. As Smith has frequently noted on his Twitter feed, Cop Out is a tribute to the buddy-cop flicks of the ’80s and ’90s, from Lethal Weapon to Beverly Hills Cop. But when you’re inviting comparison to movies written by the likes of Shane Black, you’d best bring dialogue to match. Sadly, the Cullens fail spectacularly, with an opening sequence in which Morgan intimidates a suspect by yelling movie quotes at him (and yes, there’s a Die Hard reference in there). Not once in the following 100 minutes do we hear a single line remotely as good as anything in this sequence. Hardly surprising, since most of it was written by other people.

With Morgan’s screaming manchild act rapidly wearing thin, and Willis limiting his performance to various modulations of his smirk, it seems that we’re headed for a one-star black hole. But then along comes a supernova in the form of Seann William Scott, whose brief turn as a smart-arse burglar ignites the movie and generates genuine hilarity. So, naturally, he’s soon sidelined in favour of the mismatched cops. Told you it was a tragedy.

Flat and unfunny, this merits a second star based entirely on Scott’s cameo. Kev, get thee to a typewriter. You’re so much better than this.