30 08 2010

The first joke, so to speak, in “Cop Out” involves the mispronunciation of the word homage by Tracy Morgan’s idiotic cop.  He says it as it appears, phonetically sounding like “home-age.”  Any lover of sophisticated art – or really just anybody with common knowledge, like Bruce Willis as Morgan’s brutalized partner – cringes, and perhaps simultaneously laughs.

Although Morgan’s Paul can’t pronounce the word, he is well aware of its meaning.  He loves to pay homage to cinematic tough guys, particularly the “bad cops,” in an attempt to make himself intimidating to the accused criminals.  It works about as well as an iPhone that’s gone through the spin cycle in the washing machine, which is to say not very well.  However, it does provide amusement for the other guys at the station, as well as us, the audience.  It’s like watching a montage of Tracy Morgan’s “SNL” impressions, and it’s hard not to get a kick out of watching him butcher great lines from classic movies.

The joke of paying homage keeps coming up throughout the movie in bits and fragments, always good for a nice chuckle.  But the movie lags and bores when Morgan has to play the hopelessly pathetic character written for him in the script.  One has to wonder how he can choose such hackneyed fare when his day job is working for Tina Fey, one of the brightest bulbs in the comedic universe at the moment, on “30 Rock.”

And then there’s our old friend Bruce Willis, playing the character as bored as we are.  He’s supposed to be the straight man in the routine, but he just looks bored and ready to head back to his trailer.  While such emotions can be a character choice, there has to be some variety to give off the faintest illusion that he’s not on the screen just to cash the paycheck that follows.  I don’t know what he thinks will come first, the AARP check or the offer to reprise John McClane for “Die Hard 5: Just DIE Already!”

In a year where “The Other Guys” cornered the market on making the stale buddy cop genre somewhat bearable, it seems that “Cop Out” is “The Other Cop Movie” of 2010.  This is a title made even more insulting by the fact that it’s directed by Kevin Smith, the mind behind some of the great independent movies of the 1990s.  I haven’t seen any of his earlier movies, but based on this, I’m not very keen to go back and examine his collection.  It seems to me that Smith is like the M. Night Shyamalan of comedy – a meteoric rise followed by a steep fall.  “Cop Out” isn’t bad enough to be called rock bottom, but any worse and Smith gets dangerously close.  C /



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