Thursday 5 August 2010

Review: Cop Out

Year: 2010
Director: Kevin Smith
Screenplay: Robb & Mark Cullen
Starring: Bruce Willis, Tracey Morgan

Synopsis is here:

If you were to buy/rent the Clerks X special edition DVD you would find on one of the bonus discs, a delightful little documentary called "The Snowball Effect". The doc chronicles the making of Smith's first indie feature, made for parley $28,000 . One of the most interesting sections, details how this crude, black and white feature, funded mostly off Smith's own back with maxed out credit cards, suddenly made a splash at Cannes. But the start of it all stemmed from a disappointing first screening and some lucky word of mouth to some indie film writers. Yes Clerks did come good at the end but if it were not for a stroke of luck by some writers and CRITICS who took a chance, watched the film and enjoyed it.

Skip forward 16 years.

Smith is a well known filmmaker, with 8 features (before this one) to his name and a formidable fan base. His Smodcast is extremely popular and he's also managed to have a side career as a comic book writer and novelist (3 books one making the bestsellers list). His latest film Cop Out gets trounced by U.S reviewers (as well as one or two UK ones). He hits the roof.

To his 1,678,899 twitter followers he types a 16 tweet tirade blasting film theory students, film students and critics about their take on the film. Stating that they should pay to watch the film as their opinion is not higher than any average Joe.

I say this.

Mr Smith I am a fan of yours. I follow your feed, I own many of your movies. I showed them to friends and got them interested in your films. I was a film student and now I am an average joe....

I found Cop Out to be a piece of crap and I did pay for it...with time. That ok?

It's in watching Cop Out, I realise how important Smith's writing can be to the projects he takes. Never the visual storyteller (he himself has admitted he's pretty much a point and shoot man) Smith's writing has always elevated much of what he's made. Crude he maybe, but from Clerks to Chasing Amy to Jay and Silent Bob, I've always found his dialogue to be witty and what he writes about, entertaining. This film, written by two brothers (and unbelievably on a 2008 list of best unproduced screenplays) is a shoddy display of writing. Crammed filled with unfunny "jokes", stiff dialogue, terrible characters and a preposterous story that's not even appealing let alone amusing. Two cops are chasing after a missing baseball card and a gun? Really? That all 2008 had for best unproduced scripts? Well if that's all there is then lets hope the talent can cover over the cracks.

Well they should...but unfortunately the clearly over capable cast appear to be zapped of charisma. This is a film where Bruce Willis (still one of the coolest actors working) and Tracey Morgan (One of the hottest comic talents on T.V right now) act around each other like strangers. This is despite the fact that their characters are supposed have worked with each other for 9 years. This is a film completely devoid any type of charm and it really hurts to watch. The idea of humor here is that if Willis looks bored and Morgan talks in that funny way he talks in 30 Rock then laughs are bound to follow. However with a script that believes that Tracy Morgan merely explaining pakour to Bruce Willis is funny. Hilarity ensues.

Smith clearly tries his best to give his film the throw back feel of the buddy comedy films of the 80's with crash zooms and electro score but to no avail. In fact for some reason, Smith decides it would be a good idea to have this excruciating music throughout the film even when it's not needed. It adds nothing to what you see on the screen, mostly because the film hardly has as visual humor to speak of either. Although kudos for the use of Rakim and Run DMC on the soundtrack.

I won't lie. As a man who is usually quite easily amused I did titter three times and actually laugh twice but in doing the math that only just beats MacGruber...and that ain't great in my books. I will also say, I found it funny that this film decides to underuse the abilities of the following: Adam Brody, Kevin Pollock and Jason Lee. However, it's funny meaning odd rather than ha ha.

Kevin Smith can complain all he wants about the film students, the critics or whoever and yes those who blog and write seriously about movies are tiny in comparison to the mass audience. But as a fan of his films (Yep nothing wrong with Jersey Girl in my view) this is way below the bar. Zack and Miri was middling but this is something else. Mr Smith it was you that likened this movie to a retarded kid and if your going to say that then yes I agree. It's a little slow on the uptake.