The “buddy cop” genre is a tried and true go-to for Hollywood. Every few years it seems as though there’s a film about a pair of cops getting in over their heads in some fashion or another. When it was announced that Kevin Smith was going to tackle the genre with Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan, audiences were baffled. Cop Out is completely unlike anything Smith has done before, and frankly that brings a lot of plusses and minuses to the table. Those familiar with Smith’s work will bemoan the fact that he had nothing to do with the script. That honorific went to Robb and Mark Cullen and instead Smith sits comfortably in the director’s chair, for better or worse.
In many ways Cop Out is a perplexing film. On one hand it features solid leads, plenty of laughs, and a simple plot that is entertaining enough to be worth watching. Yet at the same time the film is plagued by awkward pacing, improvised jokes that go on for far too long, and other supposed jokes that just aren’t funny. Ultimately it’s a movie where the experience as a whole makes it worth checking out, but it will leave an unsatisfied feeling in the end as a lasting impression.
Cop Out is about a pair of cops, Jimmy (Willis) and Paul (Morgan), who find themselves suspended after a botched operation. In typical buddy-cop movie fashion they are suspended and lose their badges and guns, but that’s not the end of the story. Jimmy’s daughter is getting married and he wants to fund the wedding, though with no income and no money saved up he’s up a creek without a paddle. He resorts to selling his prized 1952 Andy Pafko, but is ironically robbed in the process. Using their resources, Paul and Jimmy track down the perp, otherwise known as the Shit Bandit (Seann William Scott), and pump him for information about where the card wound up. Mr. Pafko has fallen into the hands of a Mexican drug dealer named Poh Boy (Guillermo Díaz), and from this point the film fumbles anticlimactically to the finish line.
To be perfectly honest the story in Cop Out isn’t its strongest point. The plot is really paper thin and feels weak compared to other buddy-cop pictures that feature more impressive antagonists. Then again, Cop Out isn’t a serious kind of film. It’s almost a paradox in the sense that it parodies the genre, while poking fun at itself. The fourth wall is never broken per say, but constant references to other cop movies, pop culture jokes, and coarse language add a nice amount of Smithesque levity to the festivities.
The laughs in Cop Out come in waves as the film moves from one act of the plot to the next. Side stories, such as Paul’s persistence that his wife is cheating on him, get in the way of the pacing, but provided nice opportunities for character development. Willis and Morgan seem to be an unlikely pair at first, but after ten minutes it’s clear their chemistry more or less carries the film.
Anyone who has ever enjoyed a buddy cop flick and a Kevin Smith movie will definitely want to pick up Cop Out. Sure, it’s not a serious action romp, and yes, it’s not a laugh-a-minute comedy, but it finds a welcome home somewhere in between. I could have been better and it could have been worse, but ultimately it’s worth checking out to see if it’s up your alley.
Cop Out is presented on Blu-ray with a 1080p VC-1 encoded transfer and the film’s original 2.4:1 aspect ratio. The picture quality here is good with strong detail, a nice sharpness, and nice contrast all around. There are moments where the video is on par with the expectations of Blu-ray, but then there are points where it’s not. Grain and compression artifacts come into play more often than we’d care for, and the black levels are never quite as rich as they should be. At the end of the day it’s not a terrible presentation, but it’s definitely one that leaves something to be desired.
For audio Cop Out features a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. For what it’s worth the track here is clean and crisp, though it never really offers an immersive experience. As is the case with most Smith films, Cop Out is dialogue-heavy and the conversation almost solely resides on the front channel. This isn’t a bad thing, but the action sequences lack dynamism and impact on the rear channels. The music offering here is nice with some strong bass, though it hardly picks up the flatness of the track as a whole. Again, the sound is good, but not great.
For bonus features this Blu-ray release of Cop Out also includes a DVD and digital copy of the film. Warner Brothers is known for their Maximum Movie Mode, and in the case of this film Smith puts together a “Maximum Comedy Mode” (MCM), which really is worth watching and makes the film a greater experience.
The MCM features a very personal approach to delivering bonus features. Smith spends a great deal of time popping up into the film, showing deleted scenes and background information, and constantly stops the action to provide some insight and information. It’s totally impressive and unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. This feature alone made this disc more impressive, but it’s the actual content of the material that makes the supplemental content more valuable. There are pieces of audio and video commentary here, deleted scenes, behind the scenes clips, and outtakes. A selection of “Wisdom from the Shit Bandit” features Seann William Scott dolling out the charm as the film’s goofiest character. There’s also some pop-up information here as Smith dissects Cop Out and points little tidbits out here and there. Nearly all of these features can be cherry picked outside of the MCM if you don’t want to sit through the whole thing as well.
Cop Out is a fun film that is successful at many things, but comes up short in other important categories. It’s a movie that Smith fans will enjoy, but it holds more appeal for mainstream audiences as well. Ultimately I don’t see either embracing the film strongly, but it’s worth watching nonetheless. The Blu-ray release of the film features spotty and unimpressive A/V quality, but the bonus features take the cake. The Maximum Comedy Mode is downright awesome and is truly an experience.