Rating: 3 out of 5
Cop Out would very much like to position itself as a parody of the good ol’ black/white buddy cop genre. However what you actually come to realise halfway, is that while the movie routinely makes fun of the clichés, it has a tender reverence for the tropes too.
From the opening slow-mo swaggering shot of dysfunctional partners Jimmy Monroe (Bruce Willis) and Paul Hodges (Tracy Morgan) walking towards the camera to the tune of Beastie Boys’ No Sleep Til’ Brooklyn, you already know that Cop Out is part farcical pastiche and part loving homage to 1980s action comedies.
When I first watched the trailer for this, Cop Out looked like one of those deliberately ridiculous movies that adorn the walls of Tracy Jordan’s (also played by Morgan) locker room on 30 Rock. What I failed to recognise was that the cartoonish irreverence and sheer meta-ness of Cop Out, when seen in context, is so much smarter than what it seems.
Cop Out is indeed as intentionally absurd as a Tracy Jordan movie, and that’s a compliment. Paul Hodges is basically Jordan in NYPD detective form. Morgan’s familiarity with a character as loony as this makes him the burlesque showpiece of most of the film.
Jimmy and Paul are the textbook reckless action movie detectives who display sheer disdain for the rules but “gets results!”. The pair of dicks (the film’s original title by the way) are suspended early in the movie after a sting gone wrong, leading to the inevitable extended shoot-out and chase sequence.
Already in need of cash to pay for his daughter’s lavish wedding, Jimmy gets suspended without pay and has no option but to sell his antique long-treasured baseball card. Things go hilariously awry when his priceless card gets stolen by a show-stealing Sean William Scott.
After a series of twists and turns, the card winds up in the hands of the head of a Mexican drug cartel (Guillermo Diaz), a ruthless gangster and baseball memorabilia aficionado.
The quest to retrieve Jimmy’s baseball card and bring down a stereotypical Mexican gang is the crux of the plot, but as with any Kevin Smith flick, the plot is irrelevant. The heart of this (or any of the buddy cop movies it lampoons) is the interaction between the leads. In true Smith fashion, this takes the form randomly crude, foul-mouthed, gross-out banter.
Notably, Smith didn’t write Cop Out, making this his first directorial work for hire. Famous for his revolutionary debut, Clerks, Smith is a much better writer than he is a director, so this kind of thing plays to his weaknesses.
Luckily for Smith, the dialogue here looks and sounds like something he would’ve written himself anyways, so it’s comfortable territory.
Cop Out is a simultaneous wink to the audience and an embrace of the material’s genealogy. Although it eventually becomes indistinguishable from the stuff it’s poking fun at, it’s smart enough and provides enough belly-aching laughs to warrant a viewing.
About Hidzir Junaini
Hidzir Junaini, aka inSing.com's Movie Lover, is 23-years-old and a wealthy playboy billionaire by day and a caped crusader by night. Only one of those is true. He’s actually a freelance writer, blogger, full-time film buff and some-time socially awkward nerd. He also writes about music, restaurants and nightlife for Metrowize Asia.
Hidzir is the winner of the inaugural inSing Movie Lover contest that garnered over 1,000 participants. The Movie Lover contest is a search for a candidate who possesses outstanding passion for movies and a talent for writing engaging movie reviews.