I get this terrible knot in the pit of my stomach whenever I discover that I have to review a Kevin Smith film. I know there are a core of solid fans out there who appear to get the inside joke. It’s long been my belief that he must have the best blackmail file in the industry to keep getting studio deals to release films. It’s not like any of his films have broken any box office records. Still, he keeps getting work. So, it was with that admitted prejudice and knot with which I approached my viewing of Cop Out. My shoulder had developed this nasty twitch as the disc menu took forever to load. Like a condemned man waiting for the chair generators to come on line, I watched the Warner logo and the FBI warnings slowly resolve themselves on my monitor. Then something totally unexpected happened. It was like that proverbial last-second call from the Governor. The knot disappeared, and the twitching miraculously ceased. I actually enjoyed the movie. It’s a miracle of the highest degree. Somewhere some holy dead guy just put in his final miracle on his way to sainthood, because Kevin Smith released a pretty good movie.
Detectives Jimmy Monroe (Willis) and Paul Hodges (Morgan) have been partners for a long time. Nine years, in fact, which as Paul informs us is longer than the life of your average great dane. At times it appears miraculous that the duo has managed to last that long together. They bicker more than an old married couple on their way to Divorce Court on television. To an outsider it might appear they don’t like each other at all. But when the chips are down and they get suspended for causing a little havoc on their latest undercover, they have each other’s backs. The suspension couldn’t have come at a worse time for Jimmy. His daughter wants a $48,000 wedding, and his ex-wife’s rich husband is more than willing to foot the tab so that he can rub Jimmy’s face in it. So Jimmy does what any father would do to save his pride. He decides to sell a mint baseball card that his late father cherished to pay for the wedding. A good plan. That is, until a couple of punk hoods decide on just that moment to rob the sports memorabilia store. They end up with Jimmy’s baseball card. Jimmy and Paul finally catch up with one of the hoods only to discover that he sold the card to a big drug kingpin for a couple of bags of drugs. So, now it’s off to confront Poh Boy (Diaz) to get the card back. Poh Boy offers to return the card if Jimmy can trace a car of his that was recently stolen. The car contains some valuable evidence that he wants back, including a witness ,Gabriela (de la Reguera) who has been locked in the trunk for two days. Now Jimmy and Paul need to protect the witness and bring down Poh Boy, with no badges and two of their own detectives trying to pin some recent murders on them. This should be a lot of fun, and it is.
Some things haven’t changed. While Cop Out did rake in about $44 million at the box office, nearly half of that take came in the first week. There was a pretty big slip in the following weeks in both dollars and screens. I suspect that a lot of that can be explained by the same reasons I like this film. Kevin Smith fans, who might have been expecting the same inside joke crap that the man usually dishes out, were disappointed to find a pretty standard buddy cop film with some original twists. Who would have thunk it?
A lot of the credit falls squarely on the shoulders of Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan. Just when you think you’ve seen about every kind of salt & pepper buddy cop film, these two throw in a few twists that you haven’t seen before. The movie is about 150% these guys. They have a ton of energy and chemistry. The pace of the film is another Kevin Smith miracle. Smith usually lingers on trivial crap so long you can see grass growing between the cracks of the sidewalk. Here the pace is fast and furious. There’s little time for standing around talking about nothing here. The interplay between the two is anything but static. Fans of buddy cop comedy will find this one adds some freshness to the stale bit. Fans of Kevin Smith are likely to believe their fat friend sold them out… maybe for a couple of bags of drugs or a baseball card.
Cop Out is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. The 1080p image is arrived at with a VC-1 codec at an average of about 22 mbps. Another thing that sets this apart from previous Kevin Smith films is that this film has some wonderful visual style. In the past his films really didn’t shine very much in high definition. In a previous release he admitted that releasing his films on Blu-ray had to be nothing more than a chance to get a few more bucks out of his fans. This movie is different. Here there is a lot to love in a Blu-ray release. The image presentation is solid except in some of the black levels, which fall to about average, losing some definition and detail. Mostly, however, colors are strong and realistic. There is a gritty nature to the film that makes it look a bit grungy at times, but it’s all style and fits the action perfectly. It’s the best Kevin Smith image you’ve ever seen.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 provides a nice aggressive sound field at times. The subs come alive when necessary. Dialog is perfectly placed. There are the occasional high- action moments, and you won’t be disappointed in the results. The score dominates a bit too much for my tastes, but as long as it doesn’t walk all over the dialog, I’m fine with it.
There’s a Pop-Up Trivia option called Maximum Comedy Mode. It lengthens the film to just under three hours. It’s a clever idea if Kevin Smith weren’t so dang annoying. It allows Smith to basically host and control the film. He can pause the picture and appear anywhere on the screen. He’ll throw in outtakes and alternate or deleted scenes. There are interview clips available at select locations along the film. There’s good stuff here, but I just can’t take three hours of Kevin Smith. I really wish that this stuff were accessible elsewhere.
DVD & Digital Copy
I love it when my expectations are low and I end up completely enjoying a film. While it’s our job here to be open-minded and unbiased, we are human beings. That means there will always be bias going into a film. It’s impossible for it to be otherwise. A good reviewer is not one who is not biased. I good reviewer is one who is able to overcome their bias and give a film a fair viewing even when the expectation is not encouraging. That’s what happened with Cop Out. I know I’m not the only one out there who shudders when someone mentions Kevin Smith. I’m speaking to you when I say it’s safe to check out this movie. You will be entertained. I expect you to be a bit skeptical. Now that’s how you write a review. “This is the stuff that my mom would tell friends about me, ‘My son is genius, my son is a genius’.”