Warner Bros. | 2010 | 107 mins. | Rated R

I should begin this review by stating that I admire many of Kevin Smith’s films. Chasing Amy remains one of the sharpest, self-aware rom-coms available today, and I always seem to watch it at least once a year; Clerks II was both poignant and funny. And Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back managed to nail both parody and satire in one fell swoop. In all honesty, Mallrats, Dogma, and Jersey Girl left me less than impressed. However, I didn’t think any of them were as bad as some critics made them out to be.  All of this brings us to Cop Out, the first of Smith’s didn’t write himself. Working with screenwriters Robb and Mark Cullen, and relying on his actors’ improvisational skills, the director lets it fly. Unfortunately for Smith, Cop Out is largely a misfire.

Cop OutBrooklyn detective Jimmy Monroe (Bruce Willis) wants to show his daughter (Michelle Trachtenberg) (and prove to his ex-wife and her new husband) that he can pay for her lavish wedding. However, when his longtime partner Paul Hodges (Tracy Morgan) get suspended without pay, it seems the only way Jimmy will be able to come through is to sell his rare mint condition 1952 Topps Andy Pafko baseball card. When the card is stolen by a petty criminal (Seann William Scott), the duo embark on a mission to get the card back by any means necessary. They are even willing to take on the baseball loving drug dealer (Guillermo Díaz).

Cop Out is clearly meant to pay homage to the cop buddy movies of the ‘80’s and ‘90’s. As a matter of fact, the film admits as much in an early scene: Paul interrogates a suspect a suspect while quoting a series of different movies. It’s not “acting,” he tells his partner. It’s “homage.” Smith seems to fully embrace the cheesiness of the genre. From the familiar plot elements—the odd-couple partners, the over-the-top bad guys, and the even more ridiculous rival cops—to the synthesized soundtrack by Harold Faltermeyer (who wrote the classic Beverly Hills Cop theme), it’s non-stop ‘80s-retro cheesiness.

Willis and Morgan do the best they can with what they have, bouncing zingers off each other with aplomb, but the fact that Kevin Smith didn’t write then is regrettable. If there is a real standout performance here it comes from Seann William Scott who not only plays well of Willis and Morgan, but off anyone he appears with.  Another of the film’s best moments revolves around him hectoring a cellmate into a surprising admission.

Anyone expecting a typical Kevin Smith film will most surely be disappointed; those longing for the cop-buddy films of the ‘80’s might be entertained. Otherwise, Cop Out will likely find it’s way to the back of your movie watching queue.

The 1080p VC-1 encode appears sleek and filmic, but with enough grain and texture to capture the grit of the film’s Brooklyn and Queens locations. Some of the nighttime scenes appear a bit soft, and occasional interior scenes are somewhat flat. But color saturation is bright and attractive, details are tight and nicely rendered, and the overall visual presentation is workmanlike if not spectacular.

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is heavy on wisecracking dialogue, but the occasional chases and shoot-outs give the surround and LFE channels a chance to show their stuff. Separation is occasionally weak, but the mixture of dialogue, effects, and Faltermeyer’s score is clean and well-modulated.

French, Spanish, and Portuguese 5.1 tracks are also available, as are English SDH, French, Spanish, and Portuguese subtitles.

Kevin Smith has always loved special features and he doesn’t disappoint here. Swooping into view atop the Warner Brothers logo, Smith helms a three-hour, “Maximum Comedy Mode” comprised of playful Picture-in-Picture walk-ons, stretches of audio and video commentary, more than an hour of deleted scenes and outtakes, additional behind-the-scenes footage, wisdom from the Shit Bandit, pop-up production factoids (peppered with jokes), storyboards, and plenty of laughs. (More than the film itself) Pausing the film at will, Smith eagerly dissects Cop Out and its genre references, sharing countless anecdotes and insights along the way. He criticizes his own work, clears up any confusion about the sort of film he was attempting to make, details the on-set atmosphere, and doesn’t allow any easter egg to go unnoticed. A red police-siren icon also appears near the bottom corner of the screen anytime a previously deleted scene has been reinserted into the film — a so-simple-it’s-brilliant way of identifying shots and sequences that don’t appear in the theatrical cut — and a blue icon appears anytime users are about to see dailies and outtakes.

Nine “Focus Point” featurettes (HD, 21 minutes) can be viewed within the Maximum Movie Mode experience (by pressing “enter” when prompted) or from the main menu. Segments include “A Couple of Dicks,” “The New Buddy Cop Duo,” “Kevin Pollak – Man of a Thousand Voices and Interests,” “Improvising – Now That’s Funny,” “Poh Boy’s Diamond Vault,” “Stunts-Brooklyn Style,” “Tracy Morgan Speaks Spanglish,” “Dave’s Calling Card,” and “Kevin Smith Directs.” The individual Shit Bandit wisdom shorts (HD, 4 minutes) are also available from the main menu, and feature “Dave’s Advice for Future Generations”, “Dave’s Thoughts on Fate,” “Dave Supports the Arts,” “Dave Takes a Stand for Women’s Rights,” “Dave on Violence,” “Dave is Deep About Food,” “Dave on Privacy,” “Dave’s Thoughts on Friendship,” “Dave Doesn’t Fear the Light,” and “Dave’s Thoughts on the Environment.”

A standard DVD and Digital Copy are also included.

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