You may think that Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan make the worst pairing since Eddie Murphy and Robert De Niro in “Showtime.” Strangely, you would be wrong.
After a failed drug bust, Jimmy Monroe (Willis) and Paul Hodges (Morgan) are suspended from the police force. But with his daughter’s impending (and pricey) wedding, Jimmy panics. Hope arises when he decides to sell his prized, mint-condition baseball card… only to have a spastic robber (Seann William Scott) come in and steal it. Now it’s up to the odd couple to track down the card, rolling themselves in the mud of New York’s crime syndicate along the way.
An exaggerated police satire reminiscent of the ’80s, “Cop Out” is Kevin Smith’s debut as a director on a film he didn’t write. Beyond Jason Lee’s small part as a sniveling stepfather, though, there’s really no trace of Smith’s typical cast or identity in the script. Well, other than the vulgarity. And the laughs.
That’s not to say the film isn’t hilarious. Morgan’s no-holds-barred stupid man act is paired brilliantly with Willis’ sarcastic, straight-faced dad character. Sure, one is dumb and the other is dumber, but their nine-year partnership seems to have reached a stage of blissful mockery, successfully avoiding the cop movie cliché of examining the beginnings of a strange pairing.
You can always grab big laughs when you’re quoting famous lines from other films (as Morgan does extensively), so letting Willis make direct fun of his “Yippee-ki-yay” days doesn’t hurt the funny, either.
Another surprisingly entertaining set of characters in the film — Kevin Pollack and Adam Brody — play a pair of schmuck police officers who think they’re God’s greatest gift to police work. While I don’t believe in Brody’s acting ability further than I can throw him, he seems to be sticking to what he’s good at: overt, self-mocking satire, which I can appreciate. And Pollack is always good for goofy, oddball characters, best displayed in his gangster role in “The Whole Nine Yards.”
Unfortunately, Guillermo Diaz’s turn as the gangster leader was a letdown (what kind of Mexican drug lord only speaks English to his all-Spanish-speaking clan?) and Scott’s acrobatic and ridiculously immature burglar was hauntingly reminiscent of his Stifler days. Still, Robb and Mark Cullen have scripted a funny, clever cop-pairing flick that somehow manages to avoid the majority of police clichés that have muddled the genre’s image over the years.