Cop Out

Any self respecting Kevin Smith fan (of which I regard myself as one) will know via the magic of Smodcast, Hollywood Babble on, etc, that Mr Smith isn’t the hugest fan of his own film Cop Out. In fact, in an unusual move for a director he quite often goes out of his way to actively dump on his own work. The thing is though; the film isn’t really that bad at all. It is a pretty generic buddy cop movie with all the clichés in place, but honestly, a buddy cop movie without the clichés isn’t a buddy cop movie. No one ever went to see a film about a pair of cops who are great friends throughout, never experience any friction in their relationship and dote upon one another mutually. Cop Out even features a pairing such as this as foils for our leading men, buddy cop clichés are such because they work. The problem might be that there is a lot of action here, more perhaps than would be reasonable to hand off to a second unit well versed in shooting such scenes. That it is perhaps not the strongest aspect of the film speaks to the skills of a director who made his name in long shots of people talking. Accordingly, here, the film succeeds when the action halts and we are in a car sharing juvenile jokes, even if Bruce Willis’ character isn’t too pleased about it. And about Bruce. The on-set grievances between leading man and director are pretty well known by now, but it’s a testament to someone (Willis? Smith? Smith in the editing room?) that it all looks like everyone was having rather a lot of fun putting the film together – perhaps it is just Willis’ half smile or Tracy Morgan’s indefatigable attitude. I also can’t help but love Seann William Scott as a sort of parkour wielding, house burgling asshole, whose brilliantly honest, but outstandingly childish outlook is the most Kevin Smith aspect of the film. This all assumes though that this is ‘A Kevin Smith film’. That such a thing can even exist. A wholesale example of auteur theory exemplified. The thing is, no matter how much creative control there might have been, this isn’t a Smith film, he didn’t write it, he didn’t produce it, hell, I can’t see a single one of his friends in the cast or crew in what has to be a first for serial friend enabler Smith. It is a Hollywood film that didn’t do so well. I am not sure it would have done any better with an action director at the helm; maybe we’d be having the same conversation but discussing the action scenes as the films saving grace. But what I am certain about though is that Cop Out isn’t quite as bad as everyone says it is, especially its director.

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