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 /

What To Look Forward To in … February 2010

7 01 2010

We’re still in some hazy territory in the month of February, but the new decade looks to give this month some much needed energy.  Fueled by two movies originally scheduled for release in 2009, I might actually drop a good amount of change at the movies in February (not just on repeat viewings of Oscar nominees).

February 5

Put “The Notebook” in front of anything and you are guaranteed a flock of screaming girls coming with boyfriends in tow.  Put wildly popular model/actor Channing Tatum in the poster and you can add some more girls aside from the hopeless romantics.  “Dear John” has just that: a super sweet story from author Nicholas Sparks and girl eye candy Tatum.  Thankfully for the guys, the filmmakers cast Amanda Seyfried (“Jennifer’s Body”), who isn’t so bad on the eyes either.

I’m a little weary to endorse “From Paris with Love,” another John Travolta villain movie.  He’s only good at playing subtle ones (“Pulp Fiction”) with the exception of “Face/Off.”  2009’s “The Taking of Pelham 123” was a disaster mainly because of Travolta and his villainy established only by constantly dropping the F-bomb.  Potential redemption here?  I’ll need positive word of mouth before I watch Travolta go evil again.

February 12

“Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief” is the name given to the film adaptation of Rick Riordan’s kids novel “The Lightning Thief.” Clearly Fox is setting up a franchise with the title, and they picked the right place to stake the claim. I read the book in seventh grade, and it is the real deal. I even got a chance to have lunch with the author, Riordan, who is one of the neatest people I have ever met. Whether they ruin it or not is yet to be known, but the movie is being helmed by Chris Columbus, the man who got the “Harry Potter” series flying. That has to count for something.

If Pierce Brosnan isn’t a big enough star to draw you to the aforementioned movie, you should find solace in “Valentine’s Day,” which features just about every romantic comedy actor ever. Literally, I can’t even list all of the stars of the movie here. The post would just be too darn big. Garry Marshall, director of “Pretty Woman” and “The Princess Diaries,” is in charge here, so I find some comfort in that. But if the movie flops, this will be a high-profile disappointment.

Sorry girls, the werewolf in “The Wolfman” is not played by Taylor Lautner. Academy Award-winning actor Benicio del Toro metamorphasizes in Victorian England into the hairy beast when the moon is ripe.  This werewolf is not based on cheeky teen lit but on the 1941 horror classic.  And this adaptation is rated R for “bloody horror violence and gore.”  Get ready for some intense clawing.

A big winner at Cannes and a contender for the Best Foreign Film at this year’s Academy Awards, “A Prophet” is a foreign film that may be worth a look.

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