On reflection, the title alone – the lamest of puns whose only saving grace is that it restrains from adding an exclamation point – tells you all you need to know about this weak, ’80s-inspired buddy cop movie.
The original moniker was A Couple Of Dicks, but director Kevin Smith – licking his wounds over the response to Zack And Miri Make A Porno and working here for the first time as a directorial gun for hire – says the US TV networks wouldn’t run the ads before 9pm, so he acquiesced, admitting it just wasn’t worth the battle.
And that pretty much sets the tone for Cop Out: it seems like nothing was really worth the battle – script, dialogue, plot, direction or, in fact, any sense of drama. Did we say buddy movie? Bruce Willis may top the billling, but this is at heart more of a vehicle for 30 Rock’s Tracy Morgan.
Just one problem: with him ranting and dribbling like an overgrown toddler while Willis mostly stands to the side, it doesn’t take too long to appreciate that Morgan’s comic skills are much better when served up as a part of an ensemble.
Sadly, despite the involvement of decent names like Jason Lee, Rashida Jones, Kevin Pollak, Fred Armisen, Susie Essman and Seann William Scott (walking away with the movie), Cop Out is no ensemble comedy.
Essentially the story of a couple of ‘tecs, suspended but not thwarted in their attempts to bring down an unconvincing Mexican drug lord (Weeds’ Guillermo Díaz), this tall tale also ropes in Willis’ need to recover a valuable baseball card so he can pay for his daughter’s wedding, as well as Morgan’s growing obsession over his wife’s fidelity.
Shackled by this flimsy set-up, Smith relies on his stars to bring it home. Sadly, Willis’ eyes are open but there’s no one home, and Morgan – clearly free-forming with the dialogue – misses more than he hits.
Despite nods to its ’80s roots, like the kitsch Harold Faltermeyer score, the appropriately named Cop Out is neither parody nor homage. Nor much good.
Willis phones it in while Morgan blows his debut as a lead in this dull and witless buddy cop movie. Dear Kevin Smith, why?