Cop Out

(2010) * 1/2 R
110 min. Warner Bros. Pictures Distribution. Director: Kevin Smith. Cast: Bruce Willis, Tracy Morgan, Adam Brody, Kevin Pollack, Ana De La Reguera.

/content/films/3799/1.jpgWhile watching Kevin Smith's Cop Out, I thought the score was an homage to Harold Faltermeyer (Beverly Hills Cop) until the end credits identified Faltermeyer as the composer. Unfortunately, that's one of this buddy-cop movie's only neat tricks (the other being the triple meaning of its title, which replaced working title "A Couple of Dicks"). Smith, for the first time, didn't write the screenplay he's directing (Robb Cullen & Mark Cullen did); the geek auteur's stamp is faintly discernable on the picture, despite an inkpad that's apparently running dry.

The buddy-cops in question are NYPD cohorts Jimmy Monroe (Bruce Willis) and Paul Hodges (Tracy Morgan), partners of nine years on the Brooklyn beat. The thin backstory for Cop Out's hijinks is that Jimmy's daughter (Michelle Trachtenberg) is getting married and, unwilling to swallow his pride and accept financial aid from her stepdad, Jimmy decides to sell his prized mint-condition 1952 Andy Pafko baseball card (why cannot I suddenly not shake the name Joe Shlabotnik?). But wouldn't ya know it? Just as Jimmy's about to sell the card at a memorabilia shop (not unlike the one Smith runs in Red Bank, New Jersey), an armed robber (Seann William Scott) nicknamed "the Shit Bandit" snags the card and hightails it, launching Jimmy and Paul on an adventure that entangles them with a nasty drug dealer named Poh Boy (the unfortunately typecast Guillermo Díaz of Weeds). A subplot finds Paul wondering if his wife (Rashida Jones of Parks and Recreation) is having an affair, and Jimmy and Paul have a standard-issue rivalry with two a-hole cops played by Kevin Pollak and Adam Brody, but pretty much it's a madacp chase to retrieve the baseball card, wipe the floor with the drug dealer, and see Jimmy's daughter get married.

Cop Out is close to watchable on the merits of its stars, but the script is so lazy—and it's so utterly impossible to invest in the characters or the nominal reality of the plot—that the movie becomes something of an endurance test. Morgan unintentionally plays his role as if his 30 Rock character Tracy Jordan were playing it; as you might imagine, this results in a number of isolated funny moments (Paul telling a bad guy, "You're a nincompoop--you know that, right?"), but it's also entirely alienating. Willis seems largely unengaged in what's effectively the straight-man part, though he has one or two chuckle-worthy slow burns. Scott also conjures a few random yuks, but the preponderance of jokes in Cop Out are unfunny or tiresome, like the Shit Bandit's juvenile tendency to repeat someone else's words to annoy them. One of the most thuddingly unfunny sequences is the "movie-quoting bad cop" opening scene, which the Blu-ray's behind-the-scenes material identifies as a laugh-filled day for cast and crew that didn't translate to any fun for the audience (the lower energy unused opening scene found on the Blu-ray is much funnier in Smith's patented "shooting the shit" style).

In Smith's oeuvre, Cop Out feels like a nervous compromise of some kind: there's bland action-comedy but precious little in the way of a distinctive point-of-view or style. The self-reflexive humor about the buddy-cop genre is far too thin; instead of being a clever parody of the form, Cop Out is what it eats: another flaccid buddy-cop picture. Once you've boogied out to Harold Faltermeyer's self-parodic "Axel F"-style music, it's all downhill from there.

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Aspect ratios: 2.4:1

Number of discs: 1

Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Street date: 7/20/2010

Distributor: Warner Home Video

Warner gives Cop Out its home-video debut in what they're calling the "Rock Out with Your Glock Out Edition." Perhaps it's a function of the film's relatively tight budget, but Cop Out has an inconsistent image quality that makes its hi-def transfer less than satisfying. Nighttime scenes, for example, have a contrast that's just plain weird, perhaps due to artificial brightening in post-production (or is it awkward "day for night"?). There's also a fair amount of digital noise spread through the transfer, though in small doses. It's entirely possible that Blu-ray is only exacerbating limitations of the source, but the effect is the same; though a lackluster hi-def image, it still handily bests DVD in its detail and color rendering. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround mix is solid but nothing to write home about: dialogue is clear and music well-rounded, but gunshots and burnt rubber notwithstanding, the effects and directionality aren't terribly involving or distinguished.

There's one all-inclusive bonus feature on the Blu-ray, but it's a doozy. The Maximum Comedy Mode is an over-three-hour viewing experience hosted by gleefully profane director Kevin Smith, with Seann William Scott turning up to deliver "Wisdom from the Shit Bandit" (4:04 with menu-accessible "Play All" option, HD) and for a bit of chat with Smith. Like the usual WB Maximum Movie Mode, this feature is a sort of tricked-out video commentary allowing the filmmaker to pause and comment on the action. Included are over an hour of deleted and extended scenes (including two alternate opening sequences); funny pop-up trivia; and picture-in-picture storyboards, interviews, and behind-the-scenes B-roll.

The branching Focus Points (21:22 with menu-accessible "Play All" option, HD) comprise "Cop Out a.k.a. 'A Couple of...'" (1:05, HD), "The New Buddy Cop Duo" (3:25, HD), "Kevin Pollak" (1:42, HD), "Improvising - Now That's Funny!" (3:29, HD), "Poh Boy's Diamond Vault" (2:07, HD), "Stunts - Brooklyn Style" (3:01, HD), "Tracy Morgan Speaks Spanglish" (2:31, HD), "Dave's Calling Card" (:48, HD), and "Kevin Smith Directs" (3:11, HD). Represented in the MCM interview segments are Smith, Michelle Trachtenberg, Tracy Morgan, Adam Brody, Sean Cullen, Guillermo Diaz, writers Robb Cullen & Mark Cullen, Ana de la Requera, Francie Swift, production assistant Matt Cohen, producer Marc Platt, Bruce Willis, Cory Fernandez, Kevin Pollak, Seann William Scott, and stunt coordinator Jery Hewitt.

Naturally, the disc is also BD-Live enabled for further online content.

Review gear:
Panasonic Viera TC-P55VT30 55" Plasma 1080p 3D HDTV
Oppo BDP-93 Universal Network 3D Blu-ray Disc Player
Denon AVR2112CI Integrated Network A/V Surround Receiver
Pioneer SP-BS41-LR Bookshelf Speaker (2)
Pioneer SP-C21 Center Speaker
Pioneer SW-8 Subwoofer

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