Movie Review: Cop Out

Feb. 27 2010, Published 5:35 a.m. ET

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Broad, quirky and replete with guy-centric gross-out humor, Cop Out is a goofy take on an old scenario with just enough laughs to keep it chugging along to its predictable end.

Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan star as the odd-couple cop duo on the hunt for a prized baseball card (stay with it). Despite nine years on the force together, they lose their badges for a misfire in a drug case and are forced to face some sticky personal situations. Jimmy (Willis) is stressing because he had hoped to pay for his daughter’s (Michelle Trachtenberg) wedding. Now that he’s stripped of his income, he’s chafing against humiliation from his ex’s new husband, a clean-cut guy who’s awash in money and smarm. Determined not to be outdone, he plans to sell his prized baseball card for the dough -- except that it’s in the hands of evil drug lord Poh Boy (Weeds fans will be pleased to see Guillermo Diaz in a familiar role) who -- uh-oh! -- has a penchant for baseball memorabilia and gigantic machine guns.

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Jimmy’s partner Paul (Morgan) has family issues of his own. He suspects his beautiful wife Debbie (played by the ever-classy Rashida Jones) of having an affair with their sleazy next-door-neighbor, and his jealousy knows no bounds nor emotive subtlety. This is, of course, Tracy Morgan playing Tracy Morgan, so his discontent is all high notes and over-wrought roaring, including one mildly ridiculous scene when he appears in a do-rag at the kitchen table, while Debbie tries to assuage his fears. Morgan might have benefited from some artful reigning-in by director Kevin Smith, but instead had apparent free reign and no holds barred.

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Willis actually brings dignity to a paper-thin role and anchors in the film with some modicum of humanity.” As the savvier of the two cops, his cool demeanor, while boring at times, is just the right salve for the inflammatory antics around him. He and Morgan are also complemented, unevenly, by goofy side stories with Adam Brody, who plays a helplessly nerdy cop on the force, and Sean William Scott, who plays crazy with brilliance, making the most of an imaginative component of the story.

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The movie manages to succeed purely out of its self-awareness that it’s entirely childish fun. Some moments -- like Scott’s hilarious jail scene -- are real gems, with real punch lines. Others are watered down by jokes that play out too long and editing choices that merely pander to the audience, letting scenes extend well past their shelf lives. Cop Out isn’t a film that begs for big-screen viewing. But it does hold its own as an unchallenging, pleasant and vaguely amusing ode to boy-humor that’s appealing in its very underestimation of us, and itself.


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