So the big question going into Cop Out isn’t “is it funny” – of course it’s funny, it’s Kevin Smith and Tracy Morgan. The big question is “how much of a Kevin Smith film is it.” The first movie that the iconoclastic Jersey boy has directed but not written, the buddy cop genre is pretty far from his comfort zone. So just how Smith-y is Cop Out, and how much of it is big studio laughs by the numbers?
Right up front, Cop Out is quite funny. Tracy Morgan and Bruce Willis have great chemistry together, with Willis playing the straight man (obviously). The pair are teamed up to investigate the theft of a valuable baseball card, which brings them up against a memorabilia-obsessed Mafioso. The plot is nothing new, but Smith makes that part of the fun. You see, Cop Out isn’t just a buddy cop movie – it’s more like 2007’s Hot Fuzz, a simultaneous parody and glowing homage to the genre. Starting off with an interrogation scene where Morgan knocks out incompetent impersonations of famous fictional police at a breakneck speed, the movie rattles along with a wink and a nod through the set pieces, milking each for as much comedy as it can. Smith’s first attempt at somebody else’s movie is a fine, if off-kilter approach to the genre.
Where Kevin Smith’s career path will take him from here is anybody’s guess – the director has announced his next film, Red State, will take him into the previously unexplored territory of horror. It’s good to see Smith stretching his legs – and no, that wasn’t a crack about his weight.
Cop Out is available on DVD and Blu-Ray disc Tuesday, July 20, 2010.