Kevin Smith is something of an oddity, or if you’re a Southwest Air employee, a manatee. I kid, I kid. He’s a large man but people in glass houses shouldn’t fire .50 calibres indoors, you get my drift? But speaking within the confines of the geek community (it’s kind of like the gay community without the ability to coordinate matching outfits) Kevin Smith is either a messiah or the bane of one’s existence. The only middle ground seems to be the people who don’t watch his work at all. Seemingly, you can either love the guy, hate the guy, or nothing the guy.
I’m not a fan of his more recent comic book work. Widening Gyre simply isn’t my cup of tea and I thought Cacophony was a pretty big misfire. But then again I love Guardian Devil and Quiver to death, so it’s not like I hate everything he’s ever done in the medium. When it comes to his films however I’m firmly in the “pro-Smith” camp. Even his lesser films (ie. Jersey Girl, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back) are more enjoyable than your average movie. And let’s not forget that the man essentially handed us up Jason Lee on a silver platter, and for that he deserves a medal.
Now he’s back with a new film and it’s the first he’s ever directed that wasn’t also penned by his hand. A lot of naysayers were quick to condemn the film and say he could never put out a movie that he didn’t write and have it connect on any real level. Of course, those same people bitched back when Zack and Miri came out that Seth Rogen and company would probably not be able to deliver Smith’s dialogue in the manner to which we are all accustomed. And to both claims, I have to say; bull-shit.
Cop Out is a great comedy.
Yes. I said great.
Do you want to know why I say this? Because it works. Every buddy cop movie from the 80’s that we loved so much? This is right there with them. It even has a synth score for God’s sake! Foul-mouthed banter between rival buddy-cops. Every bit of interaction between Willis and Morgan’s team and their rival cops gave me warm fuzzy flashbacks to the “we’re not gonna fall for a banana in the tailpipe” bit in Beverly Hills Cop. As Tracy Morgan would call it, paying homm-age.
And let me speak for a moment on Tracy Morgan. This is a man who I feared, oh so greatly, would be just too much to handle for an extended running time on the big screen. He’s wonderful on 30 Rock, but I have to admit that 90% of what makes his schtick funny on there is the way he bounces off the supporting cast. Also, he’s only on screen for a short amount of time so his lunacy doesn’t have the chance to grate on the nerves. I was afraid that in a two hour film he would make me want to commit ritual suicide due to an overload of zaniness. But Morgan, while never losing anything that makes him so hilarious and unpredictable, is able to channel something that makes his character utterly endearing.
On the other side of the fence is Bruce Willis. I have to say that over the years we’ve grown accustomed to him being an overly gruff type and while he still retains that edge here, the best part of his performance comes from that sort of John McClane-era relateableness. He’s playing an everyman here. It is very easy to connect with Bruce Willis because he’s not so hard-nosed that we can’t see ourselves in his shoes. Also he draws a giant boner on the two-way glass of an interrogation room. And, c’mon, that’s gold.
And that’s what I would describe the movie as. Gold. Kevin Smith has made a movie that is sort of a companion piece to Hot Fuzz, but through a different sort of lens. I’m glad to see how much he’s evolved as a director over the years. Go watch Clerks again. Would you honestly think that the director of that low-budget film could frame the kind of car chases and shootouts we see in this movie? Even the way he shoots the dialogue sequences has evolved. And while his sense of humor still seems to have remained constant, with dick and fart jokes aplenty, you can’t deny that he’s still come a very long way.