★★★ I guess right at the top I need to say that while I love Kevin Smith, I love him better better when he writes and directs, instead just being a gun for hire directing someone else's work. That's the case here with Cop Out, a buddy cop comedy written by Robb and Mark Cullen.
The film stars Bruce Willis (Jimmy) and Tracy Morgan (Paul), though Morgan does all the heavy comedic lifting here, and if you're not into his manic, rapid-fire, high-energy style of comedy, this film isn't going to work for you. He's yelling more than acting. It's a character not dissimilar to his character on 30 Rock. But I'll give him this, he is committed to the performance, and so it mostly works.
Jimmy and Paul have been partners for nine years. We don't feel that they have a history as much as we're told they do. We first meet them as they are interrogating a suspect in the police station. Paul wants to get the information out of him and leaves Jimmy to watch from behind the mirrored glass. Paul then interrogates the suspect using a litany of movie quotes, some from cop shows that somewhat make sense in the situation, while others are completely off the wall. It's a barrage of comedy and really introduces us to Paul's character. There's so many lines, something will eventually get you and if you're not laughing by the time Paul's yelling "Nobody puts Baby in the corner!" then you might as well turn it off.
At one point during the scene, Paul quotes Die Hard while Jimmy (Bruce Willis) looks on. That's a really nice meta moment.
Now standard Lethal Weapon rules apply, so the boys get suspended and have to turn in their badges and guns before solving the mystery at hand. They also must navigate around troubled marital relationships. It's all from the buddy cop playbook, but it's not a problem as long as we enjoy spending time with Jimmy and Paul.
The main plot revolves around a stolen Andy Pafco baseball card that Jimmy was going to sell to finance his daughter's wedding. While this is going on Morgan fears his wife is being unfaithful. Mexican gangs get involved, and things wrap up pretty nicely at the end.
Though the film seemingly takes place in the modern day, the music is all out of the late 80's and early 90's. The film opens with the Beastie Boy's No Sleep till Brooklyn and later on we get Poison's Every Rose Has Its Thorn. I have to assume Smith was using the music to harken back to the heyday of buddy cop movies, but it doesn't quite work. But I will admit, I loved all the songs then, and still do now.
Though the film was written by the Cullens, it really feels Smithy at times. I don't know how much he added after the fact, but it felt right and gave me a few, foul-mouthed laughs along the way.