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Cop Out's Goofing Off is Fun

Published February 25, 2010 in Movie Reviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of Sony Pictures
Cop Out Cop Out
I love my big, bald Bruce so I’ll take pretty much any generic action movie he wants to do. That may even overpower my interest in Kevin Smith movies, because a pop cultural as I may be, I’m still a boy. I’m into that too though, and Tracy Morgan goofing off is fun.

Review: Cop Out


Cop Out delivers on all three levels. Opening with the pseudo-badass slow motion walk to ‘80s power rap is a reference already, and the first scene is all about movie references. What elevates this beyond just hipster self-referencing is that it’s so immature they’re just having fun. Morgan goes outside the cop genre to say things that are totally silly, but don’t worry, he doesn’t leave out Die Hard.

Smith’s editing is an unsung asset to filmmaking. Those comedy scenes feel like a compendium of all the best jokes from am improv session, because they probably are. The editing allows him to use everything that’s good but not make it sound like people are fumbling for a line. He breaks a few rules and it tightens the timing.

It’s profane like action movies haven’t been in a long time. If it really mattered to you that Live Free or Die Hard was PG-13, here’s your chance to see Bruce Willis say f*** again. It’s still mild by Kevin Smith standards, but they do swear gratuitously just for the sake of making it R.

There are the generic cop movie elements like a suspension, turning over the guns and badges, and a rival department. Yet they have fun with it that makes it feel like it’s not generic. They have fun with the macho banter and elevate it to a complex level. Their overboard, off the books tactics revel in the excesses of buddy movies.



The film’s main Maguffin is a baseball card that Jimmy (Willis) needs to sell to pay for his daughter’s wedding. Now that could be any valuable that involves him in a robbery that ties him to a gangster plot he’ll have to solve. It’s not generic though. I believe a cop would have one valuable in his family that he could call upon when he needs to and you really want him to get his card back.

For a genre where the specifics generally don’t matter, Cop Out really makes you feel for its characters. You want Jimmy to deliver his daughter’s wedding so that D-bag stepfather doesn’t get to be the hero. You really want Paul (Morgan)’s marriage to work out. A few carefully placed, dialogue heavy character scenes really impact the entire dynamic of the buddy cop formula.

I think there’s a real future in letting Kevin Smith direct the fun stuff of an action movie and a second unit expert like David Ellis do the technical stuff. I would have liked to see a few more Ellis action scenes, but he did do a car chase gag I’ve never seen before and he got Willis handling guns. Bruce Willis gets to goof off and be tough, and Morgan is a far better companion than Damon Wayans.

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Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of Sony Pictures
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