Starring: Bruce Willis, Tracy Morgan, Juan Carlos Hernández, Cory Fernandez, Sean Cullen, Kevin Pollak
Rated: R for pervasive language including sexual references, violence and brief sexuality
Running time: 1 hour 42 minutes
Bottom line: Stupid, but in a really good way
The tagline for “Cop Out” might just say it all: “Rock out with your Glock out.”
“Cop Out” is an homage — not exactly a parody — to buddy cop movies like “Beverly Hills Cop” and “48 Hours.” It’s unapologetically crass and dumbed down, but there’s also something irresistible about it.
The story is just as ludicrous as the movies to which the movie pays tribute. Tough, uptight Jimmy (Bruce Willis) and bungling motor-mouth Paul (Tracy Morgan) have been partners for nine years. They’re loyal friends, but they’re also the laughingstocks of their Brooklyn precinct. When their sting designed to catch local drug kingpin Poh Boy (Guillermo Diaz) goes terribly wrong, their hard-nosed captain (Sean Cullen) suspends them for a month without pay.
Jimmy and Paul each deal with personal hardship, too. Paul battles the jealousy that comes from being married to the much smarter, more attractive Debbie (Rashida Jones). Paul’s insecurity drives him to plant a nanny cam in the bedroom to spy on Debbie.
Jimmy, meanwhile, doesn’t have the $48,000 his daughter Ava (Michelle Trachtenberg) wants for her wedding. Jimmy’s ex-wife’s smarmy second husband Roy (Jason Lee) says he’ll pick up the tab, but Jimmy won’t let Roy humiliate him. So Jimmy plans to sell a vintage baseball card his father handed down to him.
While Jimmy is selling the card, though, two hoodlums rob the card shop and take Jimmy’s card. Jimmy and Paul soon catch Dave (Seann William Scott), one of the thieves, who serves as a link between the baseball card and drug kingpin storylines. Turns out Poh Boy is also a baseball memorabilia fanatic.
“Cop Out” packs in a number of nods to earlier cop movies. Harold Faltermeyer, who did the famous score for “Beverly Hills Cop,” provides much of the music here. We’ve also got a competing detective team (Kevin Pollak and Adam Brody) who mock Jimmy and Paul, and all the other stock characters and set pieces we expect from the genre.
Kevin Smith of “Clerks” fame and “Jersey Girl” infamy directs. Even though this is the first film Smith has directed but not written, it’s typical of his previous movies.
Willis and Morgan work well together, but Morgan’s performance alternates between side-splitting and offensive. He drives the entire movie with his nonstop jabbering and wisecracking.
Many of the scenes depict Paul as a complete idiot, though, which many might find too stereotypical to be funny.
Pollak and Brody are wasted, getting only a few brief, poorly written scenes. Nor does the movie use Lee very much, but it’s fun to see him play against type as an elitist schmuck.
But the rest of the cast makes the movie.
Little-known character actor Susie Essman steals her one scene, and it’s a shame her role wasn’t bigger. Ana de la Reguera also gives an unexpectedly great performance as the gangster moll caught in the crossfire. You’d never know she’s the damsel in distress the way she brazenly stands up to the villain of the film.
Scott turns in the most memorable performance. His Dave uses parkour to nimbly scale walls and rooftops, but he also spouts off like an obnoxious little brother intent on winding up a sibling while remaining new agey and compassionate half the time. It’s a bizarre, hilarious character, and it’s the most original element of “Cop Out.”
The one exception to the fine performances is Diaz, the year’s first lock for a Razzie award nomination. He’s so awful and ineffective as a menacing gangster I’m embarrassed for him. Cop movies — even comedies — require an interesting villain, and surely they could have found someone better.
If you’re looking for a smart parody of the buddy cop genre, grab a DVD of “Hot Fuzz.” “Cop Out” is silly and nowhere near the ballpark of witty, but it’s also an undeniably good time.
Jeff Marker is a media studies professor at Gainesville State College.