Last Updated on Saturday, 27 February 2010 15:47 Posted by Clash Friday, 26 February 2010 06:03
By Phil Boatright for Preview Online
Cop Out. Bruce Willis, Tracy Morgan. Warner Bros. Comic cop/buddy action adventure. Directed by Kevin Smith. 2/26/10
FILM SYNOPSIS: Two longtime NYPD partners on the trail of a stolen, rare, mint-condition baseball card find themselves up against a merciless, memorabilia-obsessed gangster. Jimmy is the veteran detective whose missing collectible is his only hope to pay for his daughter's upcoming wedding, and Paul is his "partner-against-crime" whose preoccupation with his wife's alleged infidelity makes it hard for him to keep his eye on the ball.
REVIEW: Cop Out could easily be the poster child for crude movies. Indeed, most of the humor comes from obscenity and crudity, with several profane uses of God’s name and Christ’s just to evidence that neither Bruce Willis nor Tracy Morgan has any fear of showing irreverence to God.
It’s not that these guys aren’t funny. They both have a great delivery and Tracy Morgan, though it would be stretching it to say he is an actor, does have a screen presence. And though Bruce Willis is looking more and more like a grandpa, he still has star magnetism. But the film has little wit. The humor almost always stems from words and behavior we were trained as children not to say or do in public. Before I gave up, I counted 130 curse words, mostly the f-bomb. Not only do the leads rely on it to communicate every emotion, but the screenwriter then brings in a woman for one scene, proficient not only in abusive language, but artistic enough to abbreviate the words in front of her child. This came close to being a use of language, but the scene would have had more impact if the character continued to abbreviate her vulgarity out of habit even when her kid wasn’t present, or had she been the only one who swore like the proverbial truck driver.
The film was directed by Kevin Smith, who, besides being kicked off a plane recently for being overweight, has directed other movies that relied on gutter gab (Clerks, Mallrats, Dogma, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back). While Mr. Smith in real life has a knowledge and appreciation of film history, he rejects anything austere or grand when filmmaking, preferring to reach out to those unable to find wit in anything other than the obscene.
If you analyzed this film, you wouldn’t find one legitimate emotion; not compassion, not fear, not happiness, nothing. It’s a raw, rude film that ultimately raises the question, “Why don’t you just sit in front of your bathroom mirror and swear for 95 minutes?” That’s all the stars of Cop Out are doing and you’d save eight bucks.
Words not only reveal character, they also indicate our spiritual values. “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs” (Ephesians 4:29 NIV).
Dialogue can be clever: "I see...the pellet with the poison's in the flagon with the dragon; the vessel with the pestle has the brew that is true" (Danny Kaye making sure not to drink the potion meant for his jousting opponent in The Court Jester).
Dialogue can be incisive: “A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within” (the narrator in The Fall of the Roman Empire).
Dialogue can be satirical: "Gentlemen, you can't fight in here, this is the war room!" (an outraged President Muffley (Peter Sellers), in Dr. Strangelove).
And dialogue can be profound: "And I felt His voice take the sword out of my hand” (the newly converted Ben Hur).
Dialogue can also be crude and debasing: Funny People, The Hangover, I Love You, Beth Cooper, I Love You Man, Land of the Lost, Observe and Report, Orphan, The Ugly Truth, Whatever Works, Year One – and now, Cop Out.
R (a great deal of anatomical & scatological humor, as well as crude sexual comments; over 130 obscenities – before I lost count, mostly the f-word, but with most other objectionable words well represented; one scene has a black street kid using the same obscene language as the adults; another has a woman uttering obscenities with her child in toe; fourteen profane uses of God’s or Christ’s name; several point blank killings; the crime lord has a couple of people tortured; gunfire and beatings; what appears to be a sexual situation as one of the leads suspects his wife of having an affair’ we see her in her underwear being approached by a man). Running Time: 95 min. Intended Audience: I assume, adolescent grownups
DVD Alternative: The Odd Couple. You wanna talk buddy movies – this is the one. A very funny Neil Simon comedy about two very different men (Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau) sticking together out of necessity. The disc includes a running commentary track with the sons of the two stars.
Profanity – God’s name followed by a curse or the abusive use of Christ’s name
Obscenity – a swear word, indecent language
Expletive – minor curse words such damn or hell
Along with 21 chapters that guide you safely through the maze of Hollywood mediocrity and the spiritually unrewarding, MOVIES: THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE REALLY, REALLY BAD by Phil Boatwright offers countless references to films, plus spotlights on classics and soon to be classics. It’s a useful tool for parents and concerned moviegoers, one you’ll find yourself coming back to over and over.
“Thoughtful and thought-provoking, his work could very well become the standard for historical reference.” - Will Hall, Vice President for News Services, Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee and Executive Editor Baptist Press.
To purchase a copy, click here.