Ever since Dogma, Kevin Smith's potty-mouthed indictment of the inherent absurdity of Catholicism, drew such stinging attacks from The Catholic League, the silent rotund one has been asked many times his stance on religion. His response is that he does indeed have faith, and for proof of the existence of God he needs to look no further than the existence of his own career. Humble though that might be he may not be far wrong. For sitting through Cop Out, an action comedy so inept, so incompetently put together, and so irredeemably bad, and realizing that Smith was paid money to direct it, is an experience so profound as to jolt the most hardliner atheists into reconsidering their position.
Matching Bruce Willis' grizzled hard ass with Tracy Morgan's over-energized smart mouth as partnered detectives, it's clear that Smith, for the first time directing someone else's script, was aiming for something in the vein of 48 hours. Tragically, the result is more akin to Cop and a Half, with Willis in for Burt Reynolds and Morgan in for the obnoxious ten-year-old. Make no mistake, Cop Out is a wretched disaster; a buddy movie with no spark, a comedy with no laughs, and a picture so lazily, haphazardly put together, devoid of any passion or imagination, you seriously have to consider if Smith wasn't perhaps working on his strongly-worded email to Southwest Airlines when he should have been giving his film one more pass in the editing suite.
Pudgy and aging, Willis and Morgan fumble their way around looking less like two working police detectives and more like a pair of dads on their way to chaperon a school dance. From an apocalyptically unfunny opening that sees Morgan attempt to interrogate a suspect by bellowing lines from cop movies at him - a riff so bad Willis is forced to identify them one by one ("Now he's doing Al Pacino from Heat...") - things rapidly deteriorate, with the two mismatched leads generating all the chemistry of a First Grade science class, tumbling through a threadbare plot with all the flow of tar sliding up a mountain.
Something about Willis staving off the embarrassment of having his ex-wife's new boyfriend (Smith regular Jason Lee) pay for their daughter's wedding by hocking a rare baseball card that winds up stolen by a violent drug dealer. The retrieval of said card is augmented by the secondary investigation as to whether or not Morgan's wife is cheating on him with their hunky neighbor, whose primary appeal seems to lie in him not being an insufferable manchild. Oh, and Sean William Scott is floating around, too, as an acrobatic housebreaker.
With Morgan permanently set to eleven and Willis somewhat boxed into the straight man role the film careens from playground smut gags to scenes of quite sadistic violence (as if Antoine Fuqua covered for Smith while he took a really long bathroom break or something) and back again with absolutely zero cohesion or cumulative effect. Cop Out lacks anything approaching a memorable scene, and is utterly without a single likable character. Pop culture references come thick and fast, ranging from the insipid ("What are you, Wikipedia?") to the incomprehensible ("I shit so hard the people next door are like 'Warriors, come out to play.'")
There are no discernible beats here, and Smith, who has not one clue about how to frame action, exerts no directorial authority whatsoever. Scenes just begin at random and continue unstructured until Morgan, who gives the performance of an undirected man, runs out of breath and/or ideas, whichever comes first. Willis, a man of many talents of which improv comedy is not one, struggles to keep up, and the whole thing just goes on and on, and louder, and more obnoxious, and even more convoluted, seemingly forever. Then it stops.
Blu-ray Bonus Features
As if what this movie needs is even more infantile input from Kevin Smith, special features include an optional picture-in-picture mode for "maximum comedy" with Smith and Sean William Scott. Also included is purportedly more than an hour's worth of deleted scenes and outtakes, walk-ons from Smith and various "Factoids about the movie..."
"Cop Out" is on sale July 20, 2010 and is rated R. Action, Comedy. Directed by Kevin Smith. Written by Rob Cullen & Mark Cullen. Starring Bruce Willis, Jason Lee, Michelle Trachtenberg, Sean William Scott, Tracy Morgan.