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Cop Out a funny movie with a stupid title
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Cop Out a funny movie with a stupid title

by Scott Rice - SGN Contributing Writer

Cop Out
Opening February 26


Kevin Smith's waistline is getting more reviews than his movie. This is never a good sign. And the title, an obvious double entendre with a tenuous relationship to the actual movie, doesn't do much to sell the flick, either.

In addition, the trailer makes Cop Out seem like a rehash of a genre that seemed played out 20 years ago. I wasn't sure there was anything new to do with the genre, and the trailer did nothing to convince me otherwise.

So I found myself sitting in the AMC Pacific Place 11 theater on a rainy Tuesday evening surrounded by a few other critics and a theater full of advance screening regulars (there is apparently an entire subculture of folks that take advance screenings rather seriously). I wasn't expecting much.

I figured Bruce Willis (NYPD cop Jimmy Monroe) would be the gravelly voiced tough guy with wicked one-liners and a heart of gold. Tracy Morgan (his partner Paul Hodges) would be the clownish sidekick with savant-like detective powers and, uh, a heart of gold.

They would wisecrack their way through a narrative rife with family drama on one side of life and a really mean drug-dealing villain with an accent on the other side of life.

I was correct on all counts. But while all the above is true, Cop Out still finds a way to seem fresh. Cop Out is the first laugh-out-loud comedy of the year.

Jimmy and Paul have been partners for nine years. Their unorthodox methods have earned them a reputation within the department and on YouTube. The boys get suspended without pay just before Jimmy's daughter Ava (Michelle Trachtenberg) is scheduled to get married. Since Jimmy is sans income, Ava's aging frat-boy stepdad offers to cough up the dough.

Elsewhere in Gotham, a ruthless Mexican drug dealer named Poh Boy (Guillermo Diaz, playing the exact same character he plays in Weeds) is looking to expand his empire.

Worlds collide via a stolen baseball card worth $80,000.

This sounds fairly complicated and I haven't even mentioned Sean William Scott's hilarious turn as a martial arts bandit with the mouth of a 12-year-old and the mind of George Carlin.

Smith takes a new direction with Cop Out, a buddy cop comedy aimed squarely at the mainstream and big, big box office. He got the stars, the screenwriters, and the money, and he made it all work.

The one-liners come fast and furious. The ad-libs are many and expertly edited using jump cuts and quick cuts. This is a cop movie with the comedic sensibility of the best Kevin Smith flicks (Clerks and Chasing Amy). The witty and inventive dialogue and expert cinematic craftsmanship make Cop Out exponentially better than your average buddy cop comedy.

Willis and Morgan are stars for a reason. They don't reinvent comedy in Cop Out, and the writing and direction definitely serves both of them well. However, at the end of the day it's about the star and the camera, and the camera loves both of these guys, though in different ways.

While Sean William Scott is great as a small-time thief, it's Adam Brody (as Officer Barry Mangold) who was the big surprise. It goes without saying that Brody is absolutely precious. That unruly mop of hair and those big doe-eyes with lashes that never end had me swooning. What doesn't go without saying is that he's funny as hell stealing scenes from veteran Kevin Pollack (Mangold's partner) and even taking a couple of moments from Willis and Morgan.

Cop Out isn't a retooling of the classic cop comedy. It's more like a contemporary take on the genre that is much better than its title or its trailer indicate. Check it out; you will laugh out loud more than once just like I did, and just like the ASRs (Advanced Screening Regulars).

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