Thursday, March 4, 2010

Cop Out: Over and out

Cop Out (2010) • View trailer for Cop Out
No stars [turkey]. Rating: R, for violence, relentless profanity, smutty dialogue and frequent drug references
By Derrick Bang • Originally published in The Davis Enterprise, 3.4.10
Buy DVD: Cop Out • Buy Blu-Ray: Cop Out

The lunatics are running the asylum.

Bruce Willis must be incredibly desperate, because nothing else would explain why he'd sign up for this appalling project. It's difficult to believe he found some merit in Robb and Mark Cullen's creative typing: simply astonishing, because their efforts aren't even good enough to be called "writing."
When NYPD cops Jimmy Monroe (Bruce Willis, left) and Paul Hodges (Tracy
Morgan, right) need to break into a Mexican gangster's home, they enlist the
talents of a stoner burglar (Seann William Scott): a plan that comes to a
bewilderingly clumsy end ... as if Scott suddenly decided he no longer
wanted to be a part of this debacle. The whole film feels that way...

More than anything else, Cop Out is a stab at mainstream glory for a numb-nuts spoof project along the lines of Dance Flick, Date Movie, Epic Movie, Meet the Spartans, Superhero Movie, Disaster Movie and a dozen other recent no-name-cast turkeys that somehow secured theatrical release  for two mercifully quick weeks  instead of being buried in the purgatory of late-night cable and satellite TV.

Every one of the above-named flicks was dead on arrival, and consider yourself lucky if you've never heard of them.

Cop Out belongs in their company.

This miserable excuse for exposed celluloid has a bit of cachet only because it's directed by cult fave Kevin Smith, the impresario behind Clerks, Chasing Amy, Jersey Girl and  whoops!  2008's deservedly ignored Zack and Miri Make a Porno. But even Smith's fans may have trouble digesting Cop Out, because this is his first effort as a true hired gun: directing a movie he did not write, or co-write.

Frankly, I don't think he even bothered to go to work each day. This film wasn't directed; it just sort of hatched.

My 5-year-old nephew could have made a better film. His 3-year-old brother could have acted circles around everybody present in this dreck.

Cop Out is made by giggling arrested adolescents who regard poo-poo jokes as the height of humor, and I don't even want to speculate about the mindset of the viewers who, at last week's preview screening, seemed to be having a good time. I fear for the future of our country, if those folks are gonna wind up running things some day.

In a nutshell, this is the perfect movie for those who regard The Three Stooges as high art ... although, come to think of it, that unfairly maligns the Stooges. This flick is unrelentingly offensive, repulsively scatological, tastelessly violent, nowhere near funny and probably racially insensitive.

Let's consider that last jab for a moment.

Some reviewers called the 1978 film adaptation of California Suite racist, back in the day, because the story's only two African-American characters  played by Bill Cosby and Richard Pryor  also were the only two buffoons on the screen. Some patrons winced at this, but Cosby rose to the film's defense, arguing that true equality meant that African-American actors should enjoy the freedom to play any role, even the silly ones.

In that case, I guess Tracy Morgan has achieved true equality.

His character in Cop Out  an improbable New York policeman  is a loose-lipped, saliva-spewing, wide-eye-rolling, intellectually challenged and sexually boastful throwback to the racially degrading roles that made Stepin Fetchit (the stage name of Lincoln Theodore Monroe Andrew Perry) so famous from the late 1920s through the '40s.

Roles that African-Americans then spent the next three decades trying to put behind them.

But hey, if Morgan wants to roll back the clock and demean himself on camera, in an effort to parlay his long-running Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock gigs into a film career (as if!), far be for me to suggest otherwise.

But that doesn't mean his behavior here elicits respect. Or admiration for what Morgan apparently believes are rarefied comedy chops, when in fact he's simply revolting.

And take note of the "saliva-spewing" descriptor: If you enjoy watching excretions pour from a man's mouth, nose and eyes, often while unleashing a rain of profanity choreographed to showers of spittle, then hey ... knock yourself out!

I don't think the dog drooled this much, in Turner and Hooch.

The story, such as it is:

NYPD cops Jimmy Monroe (Willis) and Paul Hodges (Morgan) get suspended after screwing up an ongoing drug investigation. This comes as a problem to Jimmy, who faces a $50,000 tab for his spoiled daughter's upcoming wedding: a "parental duty" he'd rather not consign to his ex-wife and her smug new husband (Jason Lee, utterly wasted).

Jimmy therefore decides to sell his most prized possession: a mint 1952 baseball card expected to fetch just south of $100,000. But as he prepares to consummate the deal, a stoner smash 'n' grab thief (Seann William Scott, as Dave) interrupts the process, steals the card and heads for the hills.

Somehow anticipating Dave's next heist  don't ask  our doofus heroes nab the perp, abuse him into a confession and learn that he has unloaded the card to the same Mexican drug lord (Guillermo Diaz, as "Poh Boy") who was at the heart of the earlier blown investigation.

Poh Boy, in turn, is after a particular car: not because he needs a new set of wheels, but because he has business with the attractive young woman (Ana de la Reguera, as Gabriela) who has been locked in the trunk for two days (!).

(Amazing how foxy she looks, upon finally emerging.)

Jimmy and Paul do a deal with Poh Boy, agreeing to find the car  not yet knowing of the trunk's contents  in exchange for the prized baseball card.

Utter mayhem and much hilarity ensue.

At least, I'm sure that's what Smith intended.

What actually ensues is a series of disconnected scenes and encounters that don't make sense even within this plot's admittedly random parameters. Characters come and go for no particular reason; plenty of Mexicans  only Mexicans  get shot full of holes; and Dave plays knock-knock jokes with Jimmy and Paul, when not mimicking the latter's every sentence.

Oh, and there's a running subplot involving Paul's jealous belief that his wife  Rashida Jones, the only performer to escape this debacle with her integrity intact  is snagging a little nookie on the side: a fear that prompts him to plant a teddy bear "nanny-cam" in their bedroom.

Paul and his wife don't appear to have children, so I'm not sure why they'd even have a teddy-cam, but hey: We can't worry about such stuff.

If the cop car scenes between Jimmy, Paul and Dave evoke memories of similar (but much better scripted) moments from 'Lethal Weapon 2' involving Mel Gibson, Danny Glover and Joe Pesci, that's not accidental; Smith riffs all sorts of other movies in this mess, most notably 48 Hrs., and Morgan's biggest character shtick is unleashing bits of dialogue from every flick he's ever watched.

While Willis "translates" each reference for the benefit of us dumb shmoos in the audience.

Yep, that's sure entertaining. Not.

I could also lament the presence of profanity-spewing small children in this ghastly train wreck, but what's the point? Cop Out is the sort of egregious misfire that makes one fear for the future of Western civilization ... and, at just shy of two hours, it feels like it lasts for years.

Congress has fulminated at great length about the need to ban waterboarding, quite properly viewing it as torture.

Frankly, they should ban movies like this for the same reason.

No comments:

Post a Comment