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Time Out New York Project: Issue #752, February 25–March 3, 2010
Dir. Kevin Smith. 2010. R. 110mins. Bruce Willis, Tracy Morgan, Seann William Scott.
Desperation oozes from every frame of Cop Out, which front-loads its best joke — an aerial pan from Manhattan to Kings County scored with the Beastie Boys’ “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” — then spends the rest of its running time endlessly spinning its wheels. Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan are partners in law out to recover a stolen baseball card from some badass Hispanic gangsters. How we arrive at that golden nugget of a plot complication is something for the Robert McKees of the world to illuminate; for the rest of us, this is some soul-sapping dada with which director Kevin Smith is staining his already-dubious résumé.
The actors constantly indulge in unfocused improv: Morgan is given what feels like a full reel to unleash an unfunny succession of re-created film scenes, each followed by a reaction shot of Willis telling us what said scene is supposed to be (“Heat!”; “The Color Purple!”). The camera later fleetingly catches game supporting actor Kevin Pollak doing a spot-on De Niro impersonation, and it’s like seeing the difference between mastery and cacophony.
Nearly all the jokes are spewed as if they were a barrage of bullets. That’s fitting, since this purported comedy is also senselessly violent: Guns are fired with reckless abandon. Blood is carelessly spilled. And amid all the carnage, we’re supposed to give a damn about whether Morgan’s wife is cheating on him and if Willis can give his daughter a dream wedding on a cop’s salary. Then there’s the Seann William Scott stoner scenes, but, really, why prolong the torment?—Keith Uhlich