Sunday, August 22, 2010

Willis and Morgan an Unusual Duo in "Cop Out"

On one hand, there's something very familiar about this movie. We've all seen the "buddy cop" movies (i.e. Lethal Weapon and Rush Hour franchises). We've all seen the story line as well. Two cops end up chasing a drug dealer, an arms dealer, or a kidnapper. What's NOT familiar about this film is the pairing of tough guy Bruce Willis and Saturday Night Live alum Tracy Morgan.

Kevin Smith (Dogma, Jay and Silent Bob) directs Willis and Morgan. They play a veteran cop "couple". After Jimmy's (Willis) valuable baseball card is stolen (his only means to pay for his only daughter's impending wedding) he and his partner Paul (Morgan) go after it's captor, Poh Boy (Guillermo Diaz) a gangster, kidnapper and murderer obsessed with sports memorabilia. With the help of a robber (Seann William Scott) who tasers Jimmy en route to selling his card, the partners embark on their case, having just been suspended from the NYPD. What starts as a mission to get back a valuable card becomes a mission to take down Poh Boy and his murderous group of thugs. Jimmy and Paul also become the keepers of Poh Boy's kidnapping victim, the beautiful Gabriela (relative newcomer Ana de la Reguera). And to top everything off, Paul suspects his wife of having an affair. He installs a "nanny-cam" which is hidden inside a teddy bear.

It's unknown to me as to how these two came to be. The two have very different styles. Jimmy (as Willis is in most of his films) is soft spoken, but forceful. Paul incites lines from the cliche and formulaic "good cop, bad cop" routines of film, much to his partner's chagrin. Bruce Willis is an actor who has the gift of a film being able to adapt to him. Much as fellow actor Christopher Walken, Willis is a one-dimensional actor. But in a good way. He only shows his range of emotion within that one dimension. Tracy Morgan is also a one dimensional actor. But unfortunately, his acting is just that. It can be so comically outrageous that he almost becomes unbearable. The most range of emotion shown by Morgan is in his scenes with the teddy bear. Somehow, the pairing works though. Willis plays the straight man to Morgan's outlandish character, but not without getting in a few one liners and zingers of his own.

As in the "Lethal Weapon" and "Rush Hour" franchises before it, this movie has an unusual partnership. And as with these films, this one, for the most part, works. It's funny, action packed, raunchy and violent. But, strangely, all of these factors work.

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