Great buddy comedies are often built upon the tension between two wildly dissimilar personalities, thrust together by fate and forced to adapt to one another. In the case of "Cop Out," however, there's precious little of that tension to be found between co-leads Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan, but more than enough between director Kevin Smith and the shoddy script he's elected to take on, and neither seems willing to budge. This comic policier will likely notch decent returns for Warner Bros. on the strength of its cast and paucity of its weekend competition, though longterm prospects look dubious.
"Cop Out" marks indie hero Smith's first attempt to direct a script he did not write and given the absence of his garrulous dialogue and sweetly obscene sensibilities, the shortcomings of his craft are made all the more apparent. Smith's directorial style is far too slack for this material, which aims to be an homage to populist '80s classics like "48 Hrs." and "Lethal Weapon," but only winds up resembling one of the bargain-bin knockoffs that floundered in those films' wake.
Though hardly Smith's finest hour, the pic is perhaps most regrettable to the extent that it blows its chance to offer wild-man comic Morgan a film vehicle worthy of his anarchic appeal. Here, he stars as Paul, a manic detective who, for unexplained reasons, spends a good portion of the film wiping snot from his nose, drooling and crying -- one wonders if this was Morgan's small form of Brando-esque protest against the material he was given -- and who is partnered with Jimmy (Willis), a grizzled officer whose entire character description seems to have been "Bruce Willis-ish."
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