Director: Kevin Smith Release date: April 16th Review by Newell Hampson-Jones Ah, Kevin Smith! You’ve taught me so much. Through you I learned that fellating one’s self can lead to a broken neck, how asking your lesbian girlfriend to join you and your sexually confused best friend in a threesome is a bad idea and Dogma pretty much gave a voice and solidified my thoughts on faith. I have a lot of respect for Mr Smith. His films have, to an extent, replaced the teachings of a good father and I have always tried to accept his work and the direction he’s gone in. I can say that looking at my copy of Clerks 2 (it was better than Jersey Girl). But even I, a fan who will even forgive the desecration of his most loved work, must admit that Kevin Smith is at a crossroads in his career. He’s become something of a media celebrity through his Smodcasts, Evening With events and his twitter stream. One could argue that having so many potential comedy outlets, his film work has become diluted. He’s not lost his humour, but he may have lost the ability to hone and target that humour to 90 minutes of genius like before. Either way, Cop Out is a bit of a benchmark for him. It’s his first studio movie and even though he said he hated the experience and doesn’t want to do it again, a lot of people will be looking at this to give him a career half-time report. Well I’m happy to say that it’s going to be a glowing report. Cop Out may be your typical buddy movie, but it’s your typical 80s buddy movie and that makes a wealth of difference. The film centres on a veteran NYPD cop (Bruce Willis) whose rare baseball card is stolen. Since it's his only hope to pay for his daughter's upcoming wedding, he recruits his partner (Tracey Morgan) to track down the thief-a memorabilia-obsessed gangster (Guillermo Diaz). The film has already been a financial success in the US making in the first weekend alone what the studio hoped they’d make overall and it’s easy to see why. Kevin Smith’s protestations that this will be equivalent to films like Fletch and Beverley Hills Cop were no mere boast. Cop Out betters both in that it perfectly marries action and comedy without insulting the audience’s attention. Too much. It’s not perfect, by any means. There is a clumsy Die Hard gag right at the beginning, a scene where Willis discusses his character’s motivations is needless, convoluted and he comes across a bit whiney and Diaz’s gangster veers wildly to psychotically crazy to just plain annoyingly dumb, but these in no way to change your opinion of the movie as a whole. Willis and Morgan are perfectly cast and Smith appears to be smart enough not to try and restrict either actor in their role, giving the interactions between them a natural feel. And the short-but excellent-scenes where the two are with Seann William Scott just prove that Morgan can probably work with anyone, switching from the outrageous to the almost straight man when he’s playing alongside someone. He manages to perfectly sync himself with the person opposite and there isn’t a scene he’s in that you can’t love. I’m sure some will criticise him for being too much like Tracy Jordan from 30 Rock, but I think to do that would be to give his performance a shallow, lazy evaluation. Yes, there are similarities, but there are also flickers of a great comic actor who I hope we’ll see more of. Here’s hoping he gets the career Gary Coleman dreamed of and not the career Gary Coleman got. The humour is great, I loved it. Absolutely unashamed immature and puerile humour which made me laugh loudly several times-and I’m one of those irritating guys that can barely raise a chuckle at the best jokes on TV. There are nut shots, conversations about shitting and oral sex jokes all of which are perfectly pitched to get the best possible laugh. There are a few moments, just past halfway through, where there is a worry that too much is going on, with too many tangents but they come together quite neatly, not all unpredictably, but handled brilliantly. The finale is magnificent as well. The greatness of it lies in the fact that it sets up the stereotypically ridiculous final showdown (Think of Beverley Hills Cop-one man against a huge fucking army? And it was Eddie Murphy too! Eddie fucking Murphy! The man gets sucked off by tranny prostitutes and yet we still believe that he can take out a small army of Huey Lewis clones!) then the premise is flipped on its head quite quickly so that the audience’s intelligence isn’t insulted. Too much. Yeah, I’ll admit it’s ridiculous machoism, but the action scenes are dealt with so well wrapped with a soundtrack that is constantly perfect-seriously I’ve never enjoyed a soundtrack more, for what it adds to the film. So, if you hadn’t guessed, my love affair with Kevin Smith isn’t over. How much of this is down to the writers and how much to him, I’m unsure, but there is definitely a strong Kevin Smith trademark here. In fact, I would hazard a guess that this is his best film since Dogma. He’s back on form and now I’m even more excited to see Red State when he finally manages to finish it and, more so, Hit Somebody. Cop Out will, I hope, be seen in years to come-with hindsight-as one of the all-time action greats. It certainly deserves to be. Photobucket