YOU HEARD ABOUT director Kevin Smith's beef with Southwest Airlines, right? After being kicked off a flight for supposedly being too fat, Smith launched a juggernaut of blistering Tweets, repaying the airline with a public relations nightmare. It was funny. And at the same time? Annoying. While Southwest may have ridiculous regulations, do we really want the squeaky wheels of the world to win? If it were anyone else, we wouldn't think it was so cute. But that's Kevin Smith in a nutshell, isn't it? He's funny—in an annoying sort of way.
And he's funny in an annoying sort of way as a director as well. His latest outing, Cop Out (which was originally titled A Couple of Dicks, until the studio figured out Smith was being funny/annoying), is a loving, overlong homage to the omnipresent buddy cop flicks of the '80s. Beverly Hills Cop, 48 Hours, Stakeout, Lethal Weapon—all are represented and lovingly mined to create what Smith obviously hoped would be the über-buddy cop movie. He was half successful.
Buddy cops Jimmy and Paul (Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan) have been partnered up for nine years when Jimmy's prized baseball card is stolen and lands in the hands of a drug lord. Since the card was intended to be pawned in order to pay for his daughter's wedding, Jimmy (with Paul in tow) must "break every rule in the book™" to get it back. Along for the ride are even more clichés, such as the angry lieutenant, a pair of rival cops, a hot damsel in distress, a petty thief turned unwilling assistant, a bitchy ex-wife, and, of course, the buddies themselves: An experienced, deadpan officer and a crackpot partner who bicker/love each other as if they were married.
Half the time, the clichés work: Seann William Scott is great as the cokehead petty thief, Tracy Morgan is on-and-off hilarious as the mentally unbalanced cop, and the score by Harold Faltermeyer (composer for Beverly Hills Cop) is synth-y perfection. The other half is pure Kevin Smith: Frustratingly long, sometimes confusing, and too mired in details to see the big picture. Half the time you'll laugh harder than during most of the films you'll see all year, and half the time you'll shift in your seat and feel like someone's poking you with a fork. Annoying. And to tell the truth? For all the fun Cop Out may bring, you might not want to share a plane ride with it.