Kevin Smith’s Cop Out is an attempt to pay homage to ’80s cop films such as Lethal Weapon, Beverly Hills Cop and 48 Hours. However, Smith has confused the word homage with parody. Cop Out feels like an Aaron Seltzer and Jason Friedberg (the Epic Movie guys) film more than anything else. This is a film that comes off as nothing more than a tired rip-off so intensely boring I have a hard time believing Smith can look back at it and be proud, let alone laugh or even chuckle at the stupidity on screen.
I’ve been a long-time fan of Smith from Clerks to Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. My Blu-ray shelf is loaded with his work and I would even recommend you buy the below average Jersey Girl DVD for the fantastic audio commentary. However, after he sold out and made Clerks II, knowing it’s pretty much everything the first film was against, and then tried his hand at mixing Judd Apatow with Smith-inspired crude behavior in Zack and Miri Make a Porno, it’s almost as if he has sold his soul to make Cop Out. And he even sold it for cheap, taking, at minimum, a 65-percent pay cut along the way to maintain the film’s R-rating. Smith has said it was worth it, knowing that I would have hated to endure a PG-13 version.
Cop Out is Smith’s first directing gig in which he didn’t write the script, and while it shows a lack of talent at the screenwriting stage (though this is about as bad as you would expect had Smith written it considering his current trajectory), equally disastrous is the serious lack of editorial and directorial control. Smith, once again serving as his own editor, shows what can only be a major ego or a declining sense of humor with this 110 minute series of deleted scenes, twenty of which I could have told him should have been cut before I even sat in the theater. Admittedly, there are a few laughs, and they are laughs that feel as if Smith had a hand in shaping the jokes, but they are sandwiched in with such trite dialogue it doesn’t really matter, and it begins early with an interrogation scene that feels like it will never end.
Aboard this train wreck are Tracy Morgan and Bruce Willis playing Detectives Paul Hodges and Jimmy Monroe respectively. And guess what, they have an unorthodox way of solving crimes. I mean, these guys are real wack-a-doos. Such as staking out a pawnshop dressed as a cell phone… You did what?!?! Man you crazy! Too bad captain cranky-pants doesn’t like it and decides to bench Paul and Jimmy for a month after they lose the bad guy and shoot up a neighborhood. Enter Kevin Pollak and Adam Brody, the rival detectives with all the jokes. Both are a bit goofy and one specifically likes fancy boots. Zing! That’s comedy!
It goes on like this, and on and on and on. Seann William Scott, whom I traditionally find very funny, is given nothing to work with and that nothing translates into more of the very same nothing. It’s astonishing how redundant every scene is, which may explain why Bruce Willis looks as if he were nothing more than a life-sized cardboard cut out of himself, showing as little excitement to be in this film as I was to be in the theater enduring it.
The worst of the bunch is Guillermo Diaz as the drug-dealing villain Poh Boy. However, I don’t place any blame on his shoulders as it was most likely Smith’s decision to have him play his character as a caricature of action-thriller baddies. I get what he’s doing here, but I’m not sure how it is considered funny. Utilizing slow-motion and corny one-liners, Smith is obviously looking to parody as much as he is hoping to pay homage to the successful cop flicks of the past, but it just comes off as dull and uninspired in every way.
Looking over Smith’s career decisions it’s upsetting to see the way things have gone. Clerks, Dogma, Jay and Silent Bob, Mallrats and Chasing Amy are films I will go to my grave with. They aren’t award-winning cinema (though Chasing Amy‘s at least nomination-worthy), but at least they are films that feel as if they meant something to the filmmaker making them. I never got the sense Clerks II was something Smith wanted to do, Zack and Miri was simply a misfire that wasn’t altogether awful, but was still missing something and Cop Out appears to be the bottom of the barrel. It’s almost as if this film is telling Smith now is the time to look back and reflect on everything that has transpired since Clerks and start over.
I read in an interview where Smith was watching the Olympics and saw “Sponsored by Cop Out” and, surprised to see his R-rated film promoted in primetime, said, “WHAT? I made that movie!” To this point Warner Bros. has done their best to make sure no one knows this is a Kevin Smith film, so for the sake of his career I suggest he keep information such as that to himself.