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"Cop Out" an Aptly Titled Dud

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan are a couple of wacky cops fighting crime in Kevin Smith's new comedy.

    "Cop Out," the latest entry in the bi-racial buddy cop genre, is director Kevin Smith's demented love letter to Axel Foley, aka the "Beverly Hills Cop," and its grating, synth-heavy soundtrack. Why anyone would want to revisit this era is beyond understanding.

    When this project was first announced, under the title "A Couple of Dicks," there was talk that Smith wasn't a good enough director to work with someone else's script. The fact is, the script is a mess and Smith's biggest weakness is in directing action.

    His use of slow-motion is so bizarrely haphazard, it's hard to imagine what it's meant to evoke. And the tone of the film changes gears so frequently and suddenly that you it expect the transmission to drop.

    Shoot-em-ups peppered with laughs have a long history of success. But punctuating a goofball comedy with gang-style executions, torture and shootouts is beyond jarring. Any movie in which the highlights include Morgan interrogating a witness with a litany of classic film quotes, simply can't shift seamlessly to bodies falling left and right, and have it make any sense.

    The soundtrack is equally discordant. In addition to 15 compositions from synth god Harold Faltermeyer (the man who wrote "Axel F," which improbably reached No. 3 on the U.S. charts), the film features a handful of '80s hits: "No Sleep Til Brooklyn," "King of Rock," "Every Rose Has Its Thorn," "Dance Hall Days." Even the good songs -- decide for yourself which those are -- come off as winks to the audience.

    Morgan is occasionally hilarious, with a genius for making you laugh in spite of yourself. Yes, there are those who find him, well, stupid. But if you're fan, you'll be pleased to know that he mostly keeps up his end of the bargain.

    Willis, for his part, spends a little too much time trying not to laugh at Morgan, and gets saddled with "my baby girl's getting married and my hot ex-wife married a rich a**hole" work, which does nothing much to entertain or move the plot.

    The supporting players are grossly misused. Seann William Scott is just tiresome, and not in the periodically charming way that has kept him employed through the years, while Adam Brody and Kevin Pollak have never been less funny -- in a comedy, anyways.

    "Cop Out" is Smith's effort to pay "hommage" (as Morgan would say) to a type of movie that -- despite how popular it may have been at the time -- simply doesn't merit the effort.