I shall refrain from holding the title of this film up as the ultimate example of a self-fulfilling prophecy, but believe me, it's taking all of my powers.
Cop Out is directed by indie auteur Kevin Smith. It's the first of his films that he didn't write himself, but considering his vehement defense of the project, we shall not take that into account here. I haven't read the script, so I have no way of knowing how close the film sticks to the original text, but I'll just go ahead and blame Kevin Smith for everything anyway. After all, the buck stops with the director, and since he has so willingly jumped out in front of my bus, it shall be my exquisite pleasure to stomp on the speeder, and put the wipers on "ultra-high", as I aim directly for Smith's perplexed face.
The story, such as it is, concerns a pair of mismatched cops, Tracy Morgan and Bruce Willis, who are suspended without pay in the middle of an investigation. Willis, who has to pay for his daughter's wedding, is now forced to sell an old baseball card, to pay for the whole show. When the card is stolen the two cops have to take on a powerful drug dealer to get it back. And that's pretty much it.
The plot is very, very thin, but there's not necessarily anything wrong with that. It's very '80s-ish, which is also okay. Stories like this have been told - and have worked - since the the dawn of man. I believe the very first cave drawings featured a couple of mismatched cops who had to work together to catch a buffalo or something. Classic stuff in other words. All good.
What's not so good is the fact that this is a HORRIBLE, STUPID, AWKWARD and CLUMSY film. It's a film so desperately UNFUNNY and UNCHARMING that you'll be tempted to pull out your own fingernails as you watch it, just to feel something, anything! When I say it's stupid, I don't mean ha-ha stupid. No, this is just frustratingly stupid! You know, the kind of frustration you feel when you think about the government or taxes. The story is so badly told, and so BORING that after an hour Bruce Willis is forced to recount the whole thing, just to be sure nobody has forgotten what this is really all about.
Lame ass scenes where unfunny guys talk about who's going to pay for a wedding are the order of the day here, and considering that one of these guys is Smith alumni Jason Lee it's quite startling how bad these scenes work. I can imagine the production meeting: "Let's hire Jason Lee and make him be totally unfunny!" "Yeah! That's a great idea!"
Here's the thing: Plot doesn't really matter all that much in a cop-buddy movie. It just has to be there, so our guys have something to do, it's all about the chemistry between the leads. Well, the pairing of Tracey Morgan and Bruce Willis is a GIGANTIC problem. Willis looks tired and old. The script gives him nothing to work with. Absolutely nothing. Tracy Morgan is the worst actor on the planet. I dislike him in every sense of the word, and would literally dance around in the street if he drowned himself in a toilet. It's exhausting beyond belief to watch him trying to be funny. He has nothing to offer this world. He has ZERO comedic timing. He's unbelievable as a human being. Together Morgan and Willis have NO chemistry AT ALL. Their scenes are so empty and devoid of life that you'll think you've accidentally pressed the pause button on your remote, until it dawns on you that two actors have been trying to convince you of something for the past 5 minutes.
And don't get me started on the whole Adam Brody and Kevin Pollak as the competing team of cops. I mean, have you SEEN Stakeout (1987), Kevin Smith? That's how sh*t is done! In a world where films like The Last Boy Scout (1991), Lethal Weapon (1987), or even Running Scared (1986) exist, there's NO room for lackluster efforts such as this.
In the most mind-numbingly clueless piece of casting Smith has chosen the most indifferent Latino actor he could find to play the drug dealer. Is THAT supposed to be THE bad guy, I mean our enemy no. 1? Really?! He looks like he should play Random Latino Guy #11. This guy has the screen presence of a door knob. He looks like somebody's retarded cousin who wandered on to the set. Perhaps he was, and Smith didn't have the heart to tell him. Or Smith thought he'd struck gold, because the guy was SO MUCH better that the piece of navel lint he originally cast.
It doesn't take long for the director to descend into embarrassing antics like dressing people up in weird costumes, or painting a penis on their face (actually I think both of those happen in the first scene), and that's the high point of the movie. From then on the film deteriorates to feces jokes, and scenes where people don't understand Spanish. Here's a little free comedy advice for ya Smith: The fact that a person doesn't speak Spanish does not constitute a joke. If you want comedy from people speaking different languages, you kind of have to do something more with the scene. Oh, there's also a guy who - ready for comedy genius? - REPEATS stuff! Yeaaaaaaaah! AWESOME! He like repeats what people say. Sooooooo funny. This must have come from the mind of an 8-year old.
Is this really the work of the guy who did the hilarious Clerks (1994), the stupidly wonderful Mallrats (1995), the poignant Chasing Amy (1997), and the surprisingly mature Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008)? Even if we assume that Smith didn't write a single word of the dialogue in Cop Out, he should still be able to infuse the film with just a little bit of the flair he demonstrated in his other projects, right?
Smith got into a whole lot of hot water, when he got mad at critics who trashed the film. I was all ready to defend him, because he's usually never given a fair chance, but I must admit that anything bad anybody has ever said about this film is probably valid. Smith's point was that every film isn't Schindler's List (1993), and that everyone should ease up on Cop Out, because it was just an unambitious film, made for laughs.
There are two problems with this: 1) There's no reason you shouldn't have ambitions just because you're making a funny film, and 2) Cop Out isn't funny. I've been watching Smith films since his debut with Clerks, and this is by far his worst film. It's SO BAD that it makes me love his other films a little less. After watching Cop Out it has become painfully clear that Kevin Smith may be the best director in the world, when it comes to a Kevin Smith film, but he sure as shit can't direct anything else.
Cop Out makes me sad. You make me sad, Kevin Smith.