Desperation oozes from every frame of Cop Out, which front-loads its best joke—an aerial pan from Manhattan to Kings County scored with the Beastie Boys’ “No Sleep Till Brooklyn”—then spends the rest of its running time endlessly spinning its wheels. Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan are partners in law out to recover a stolen baseball card from some badass Hispanic gangsters. How we arrive at that golden nugget of a plot complication is something for the Robert McKees of the world to illuminate; for the rest of us, this is some soul-sapping dada with which director Kevin Smith is staining his already-dubious rsum.
The actors constantly indulge in unfocused improv: Morgan is given what feels like a full reel to unleash an unfunny succession of re-created film scenes, each followed by a reaction shot of Willis telling us what said scene is supposed to be (“Heat!”; “The Color Purple!”). The camera later fleetingly catches game supporting actor Kevin Pollak doing a spot-on De Niro impersonation, and it’s like seeing the difference between mastery and cacophony.
Nearly all the jokes are spewed as if they were a barrage of bullets. That’s fitting, since this purported comedy is also senselessly violent: Guns are fired with reckless abandon. Blood is carelessly spilled. And amid all the carnage, we’re supposed to give a damn about whether Morgan’s wife is cheating on him and if Willis can give his daughter a dream wedding on a cop’s salary. Then there’s the Seann William Scott stoner scenes, but, really, why prolong the torment?—Keith Uhlich
Watch the trailer
See also The Hot Seat