It's actually a stretch to call Kevin Smith a filmmaker. He's a funny guy with a camera. His films always are always good for a few laughs, but they are uniformly sloppy, undisciplined, and amateurish. (He peaked with Clerks, where being sloppy, undisciplined, and amateurish actually worked in his favor.)
I thought perhaps that directing a script he didn't write (in this case, screenwriting credit goes to brothers Robb and Mark Cullen) and working with a big budget star like Bruce Willis might put a little professional sheen on his work. I was wrong.
So with Cop Out we have, essentially, a Kevin Smith film. It is both profane and sentimental. It has nothing resembling a cohesive plot. It has nothing resembling a structure. And, of course, it made me laugh a lot more than several other films that boast both plot and structure.
Smith is harking back to the old cop buddy film genre—48 Hrs., Lethal Weapon, et al—and using Bruce Willis in his taciturn tough guy mode. (No need to use the winking, mugging Willis because he has that more than covered with Tracy Morgan, who brings his patented "potty-mouthed toddler on Ritalin" persona to the proceedings.)
Willis plays Jimmy Monroe and Morgan plays Paul Hodges—they are partners, iconoclasts, and, after 10 years of working together, even friends. Bored with their work, they have a habit of recreating scenes from old movies to spice up their busts. (In one colorful sequence, Hodges manages to evoke Heat, Scarface, and The Color Purple.)
They get suspended from the force for screwing up an undercover investigation of a drug kingpin (in a bit typical of the film's silly humor, Hodges is still wearing the giant foam cell phone costume he was sporting for the job while he's being suspended). The timing couldn't be worse for Monroe, whose only daughter is getting married. His ex-wife's flashy new husband (Jason Lee) has smugly offered to pay for the pricey wedding.
Monroe decides to sell a valuable baseball card, which gets stolen and lands in the hands of the aforementioned drug kingpin (Guillermo Diaz)—so now the suspended cops have to work outside the force to get their card and their man.
Of course, one's appreciation of a film like this is often a matter of taste: For example, I found Seann William Scott's two-bit crook who has a habit of antagonzing the wrong people to be quite funny. You may find him deeply irritating.
I also enjoyed Kevin Pollack and Adam Brody as Monroe and Hodges' bickering adversaries on the force—they seemed to be having their own separate buddy cop movie off camera.
But I don't want to mislead you here. Cop Out is not a good movie by anyone's definition. But it sure made me giggle, perhaps more than I care to admit. Let's just keep this between you and me, okay?