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Cop Out

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Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan in Cop Out
Cop Out is Kevin Smith's first foray into directing from someone else's script. Judging by these limp results, one would be forgiven for hoping it will also be his last.

Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan star as Jimmy and Paul respectively, two 'maverick' police officers who introduce themselves by ruining a long running investigation and promptly being suspended without pay. Struggling for the cash to pay for daughter Ava's (Michelle Trachtenberg) wedding, Jimmy decides to part with a rare baseball card to raise $50,000. Unfortunately, he is robbed at the last moment and what follows is an incredibly tedious attempt to win back the card and fund the wedding.

As a duo, Willis and Morgan lack chemistry. Morgan shouts, overreacts and has toddler tantrums at every turn, while Willis oscillates between parenting him and sitting back with a slight smile as if to say 'this trainwreck is nothing to do with me'. There is no sense of either aggravation or friendship, only apathy. This lack of any real spark is not limited to the pair's relationship with one another as, dull as they are together, apart they fare no better. Paul is chronically insecure and spends most of the film obsessing over his wife's fidelity - Rashida Jones does her best as the long-suffering, beautiful wife but the idea of her character having even a passing interest in Paul's spoilt-kid-in-an-adult's-body is risible. Jimmy is similarly emotionally barren. The entire plot is based around his need to pay for his daughter's wedding but not (as one would assume) because of any vaguely admirable sense of providing for his daughter - he's never bothered with alimony or child support. No, it boils down to a battle of egos with his ex-wife's new husband, the cartoonishly nasty Jason Lee.

The supporting cast provide some distraction: Seann William Scott's stoner cat-burglar with a penchant for parkour provides some much needed relief and his juvenile exchanges with Jimmy and Paul do breathe a little life back into the movie. Similarly, Ana de la Reguera is an engaging screen presence as kidnap victim Gabriela. However, the brevity of their combined screen time only serves to underline the many shortcomings in the starring roles.

The film feels slack and the dialogue - notably absent of the vulgar wit which marks Smith's own scripts - fails to enliven the flimsy plot. You can detect Smith's influence in parts, but it sticks out like a sore thumb rather than adding anything to the proceedings. Particularly jarring are a reference to 'All your base...' and the synth soundtrack.

Ultimately, there are hints that Cop Out was supposed to be something smarter and less lazy, but no-one involved seems to be able to counter the truly terrible script. Considering the talents involved this film should have been average at the very worst, instead it's a boring, unfocused and unfunny rehash of a genre whose time has well and truly passed.


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