Being a director for hire is an odd thing. Film is often credited as a director’s medium so people tend to expect things when they see a name attached, even if it obviously isn’t a passion product. Kevin Smith directing a Bruce Willis callback movie should be great…but it’s missing too many things.
Smith has said countless times that he is not the best director. He’s known for his witty and vulgar screenplays while still having a bit of childish heart. (You know, the formula that made Judd Apatow filthy rich?) Cop Out is none of those things, but pretends it is.
Willis and Tracy Morgan play Monroe and Hodges, a couple of dicks who have been partners for nine years despite having zero chemistry together. After an undercover stint goes expensively wrong, they’re suspended for a month without pay. During this time, they are trying to track down a baseball card that will be able to pay for Monroe’s daughter’s wedding. This gets them tied up with a Mexican drug lord played brilliantly by Guillermo Díaz and a nutjob thief played by Seann William Scott.
If this sounds like a 80s cop movie, it’s because it wants to desperately be an 80s cop movie. Despite the R-rating, this feels very PG. There’s no grit to anything on screen. Too much of it has such bright lighting and no stakes to their actions. It can still be a comedy and have that tone; look at Beverly Hills Cop.
Instead of playing off the cop movie stereotypes, it just repeats them. There’s no irony in the scene where the captain takes their badges. It’s not even invoking a sense of nostalgia, just happily replaying the clichés.
The worst offense is that the movie isn’t that funny. There are a ton of really funny people in this movie, but the few laughs come from them obviously improvising. Díaz, as I mentioned, is a really skilled comedic actor who is very dedicated to this stereotypical villain. Scott gets a few smirks out of a character that strives on being annoying. (Thankfully this was more entertaining than his tired American Pie persona.) Adam Brody and Susie Essman are also solid but the script is not helping them at all.
This cast is so strong though! Aside from all of the names I mentioned, there’s still Jason Lee, Michelle Trachtenberg, Rashida Jones, Kevin Pollak, and relatively unknown Ana de la Reguera. These are very talented comedians who could make this movie a comedic powerhouse if there were any effective jokes on the page.
How do I know what was on the page and what wasn’t? The bonus features told me everything I needed to know. Apparently Warner Brothers have started this new thing called “Maximum Movie Mode” which is renamed for this flick “Maximum Comedy Mode.” This is a unique concept where they combine the commentary, deleted scenes, blooper real, and featurettes into one crazy long thing. I wish this was attached to my favorite movies because this is really cool.
Basically Kevin Smith is standing on a green screen and he just talks over the movie and then may pause the movie to show an extended version. Or he may play something back to back or he may just have Seann William Scott interrupt him to give a small comedy sketch. It’s a really cool concept, but three hours of Cop Out footage can be exhausting.
In the footage was a lot of revealing aspects of this movie. The ad-libbing was much stronger than what was in the final cut. Also every scene that was thought was a cool concept was invented during reshoots. Love him or hate him, Kevin Smith is really good at being honest and this is seen during this MCM. It’s clear he likes this movie and liked being on this movie, but he also pokes fun at what kind of movie this is and how he isn’t a very good director. He even shows his least favorite scene. In the middle of the MCM, he goes into a story where he revealed to Bruce Willis that he has no idea what kind of lens there are on a camera. That story was funnier than the scene he was interrupting and that makes this an odd DVD review. Don’t watch the movie but just watch the bonus features. You’ll laugh more.
Film: 2 Yaps
Bonus Features: 4 Yaps