Now available on DVD, “Cop Out,” starring Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan, is a buddy flick/action movie/comedy. Directed erratically by Kevin Smith, it’s sporadically funny, sometimes violent, and continually profane. In short, the “R” rating is richly deserved.
Smith takes dead aim at his usual target audience of twenty-something males, who are more likely to be drawn to Morgan (of “Saturday Night Live” and “30 Rock” fame) than to the aging Willis. In fact, Murray gets more screen time and most of the laugh lines. He plays Paul, a married man suspicious of his wife (played by Rashida Jones, late of TV’s “The Office”). By contrast, his partner of nine years, Jimmy (Willis), is divorced and trying to come up with money for his daughter’s wedding.
So it doesn’t help that the two mess up and get suspended for thirty days without pay, forcing Jimmy to sell one of his prized baseball cards in order to save face with his daughter. When the card gets stolen in a stick-up, the third player in the comedy is added: Seann William Scott as an inept druggie who steals the prized card but has no concept of its value.
Even after the two cops track him down and arrest him, he refuses to toe the line, yammering away in the back seat of the car, making obscene jokes about Paul’s wife, and generally being uncontrollably manic. Scott’s several scenes are probably the movie’s liveliest and funniest.
Even here, however, Smith’s loose editing consistently lets the joke run too long, taking the air out of the comedy. He and screenwriters Ron and Marc Cullen also stick in too many subplots, so that none of them engages our attention. The main one (?) involves a local gang leader (Juan Carlos Hernandez) who is involved in the kidnapping of a rival drug dealer’s widow (Ana de la Reguera). The cops inadvertently rescue her, and she winds up…oh, never mind.
The DVD release of “Cop Out” feels like it was timed to coincide with the middle of summer, when college students have more than the usual time on their hands and are in a more, um, relaxed mood. Older folks will likely find less to laugh about after the initial shock wears off. Willis seems to be going through the motions here, replaying a part he has done perhaps a dozen time before, most recently in 2007’s “Live Free or Die Hard.” Morgan’s over the top brand of SNL shtick lends some initial energy but wears on me: when his character is supposed to turn serious, it doesn’t work.
Still, on the strength of Morgan and Willis, “Cop Out” did OK at the box office last winter. As the long as the summer sun is out and the rain holds off, though, I’d recommend staying outside.