Directed By: Kevin Smith
Starring: Bruce Willis, Tracy Morgan, Adam Brody, Kevin Pollak, Guillermo Diaz, Seann William Scott, Ana de la Reguera, Michele Trachtenberg
Studio: Warner Bros.
Film Length: 107 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.4:1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Release Date: July 20, 2010
The Film ***
In Cop Out, Jimmy (Willis) and Paul (Morgan), are Brooklyn Detectives who have been partners for nine years. Based on Jimmy's bitter divorce and Paul's marital paranoia, their professional partnership may very well be the most enduring and successful relationship in their lives. When an operation designed to nail a Mexican drug gang goes awry resulting in the death of a Police Informant, Jimmy and Paul are suspended without pay and told to turn in their badges and guns. Being on the hook for his daughter's (Trachtenberg) dream wedding, this could not have come at a worse time for Jimmy. He decides to cash in his late father's ultra rare Andy Pafko baseball card to pay for the wedding, but is tasered and robbed shortly after entering the memorabilia shop to get it appraised. Paul helps Jimmy track down the thief, who turns out to be Dave the S--- Bandit, a super-talkative, Parkour-practicing home invader who likes to leave toilet deposits in the homes he robs. When they discover that Dave has already fenced the Pafko card to Poh Boy (Diaz), the baseball-obsessed drug lord who, with his brother Juan (Fernandez), runs the gang they were trying to bust, their odyssey continues its increasingly bizarre and dangerous trajectory. Along the way, they run across a child car thief, a beautiful non-English speaking kidnap victim (de la Reguera), a plot to take over the entire New York drug trade, and a rival pair of detectives (Pollak and Brody) on the trail of Poh Boy.
Kevin Smith's Cop Out tries to walk a line between parody and homage, and finds itself off-balance on more than a few occasions. The hat-tips to classic cop movies are unmistakable, inclusive of the odd couple partners, the screwed-up family lives, the hard-nosed Chief demanding "badges and guns", the "by the book" rival pair of cops, the indiscriminately homicidal drug lord antagonist, the mid-second-act car chase, the thousand bullet per minute third act shoot-out culminating in climactic stand-off, the thousand f-word per minute dialog, and -- the cherry on top of the homage sundae -- the Harold Faltermeyer score enhanced by a cadre of 80s classics on the soundtrack. While these elements do manage to evoke the warm waves of nostalgia intended from fans of Lethal Weapon, Die Hard, 48 Hours, and the untold sequels and variations on their genres, Smith does not achieve the balance between the honest to goodness action and broad comedy elements of the film necessary to make it a cohesive whole. Too often, Smith, who works as his own editor, cannot resist letting comic scenes play out a bit too long or too broadly to keep the movie and its characters grounded. Granted, mixing comedy with high stakes action can be a tricky business, especially if the comedy is more than just an occasional relief valve for otherwise intense characters and situations a la Richard Donner's Lethal Weapon, but Smith does not hit the sweet spot the way two of his touchstone films in the genre, Michael Ritchie's Fletch and Martin Brest's Beverly Hills Cop do. The viewer gets the sense a bit too often that they are being winked at by the filmmakers which undermines the straight action sequences.
That being said, the film does have more than a few laughs for fans who can tune themselves in to the alternately affectionate and exasperated vibe created between Willis and Morgan. On a scene by scene basis, this dynamic is explored and exploited for laughs, especially when Willis and Morgan get to riff together with the over-achieving supporting cast inclusive of Scott's irrepressibly annoying "S--- Bandit", Guillermo Diaz's intriguingly off-kilter "Poh Boy", and Kevin Pollak and Adam Brody's rival cops who share Jimmy and Paul's tendency to sound as much like an old married couple as a professional duo when they converse. The list of comic "ringers" extends deep into the supporting cast "bench" with Smith regular Jason Lee nailing the role of the wealthy d----bag second husband of Jimmy's ex, Susie Essman hysterical as a foul mouthed mother making every effort to avoid swearing in front of her son, Ana de la Reguera stealing every scene in which she appears despite not having any English dialog, SNL veteran Fred Armisen as a Russian Lawyer a bit too willing to offer his wife up as a hostage, and Rashida Jones as Paul's wife suspected of cheating on him. Unfortunately, just because a scene is funny, does not mean that it has to stay in the film, and overindulgences of identical or similar "bits", such as Scott's character's predilection for infuriating others by repeating what they say, wear out their welcome.
The Video ****
While Kevin Smith has gone on record several times pointing out his lack of ability as a visual stylist, he and long-time cinematographer Dave Klein give Cop-Out a decent professional sheen. There is at least one shot that seems to have its focus in the wrong plane, and some of the night-set second unit action scenes look substantially grainier than the rest of the film. With those source deficiencies aside, the film's straightforward lighting set-ups are rendered accurately and without significant digital artifacts by the 1080p VC-1 encoded presentation letterboxed to the film's original aspect ration of 2.4:1.
The Audio ****
The DTS-HD MA lossless 5.1 track presents a fine near-field listening representation of the theatrical mix. The surrounds are used for light music support and occasional directional effects, although the scenes involving gun-play were not as actively three-dimensional in the mix as I though they would be given the film's action homage intentions. Alternate language Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks encoded at 640 kbps are included in Spanish, French, and Portuguese.
The Extras ****
When the disc is first inserted into a player, the following two skippable promos play. They are presented in VC-1 encoded 1080p video with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio):
- Warner Digital Copy Promo (:58)
- Warner Blu-Ray promo focusing on the interactive extras for Watchmen, 300 and The Dark Knight (2:00)
The proper special features on this disc are all presented in 1080p VC-1 encoded video with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio.
Aside from the BD-Live link on the main menu, all of the on-disc special features are grouped under the heading of Maximum Comedy Mode. For Blu-ray players equipped with "Bonusview" capability (Profile 1.1 or higher), playing the film in Maximum Comedy Mode offers up a visual commentary track with branching features that is by far the most comprehensive and informative special feature on the disc. The MCM mode runs for 175 minutes and is hosted by Director Kevin Smith. Viewers familiar with other Warner "Maximum Movie Mode" presentations for films like Watchmen will have a pretty good sense for how it works. It includes a mix of conventional audio commentary, video commentary with and without the film "paused" by Smith, picture in picture video commentary inclusive of comments on the other pieces of commentary, storyboards running concurrent with a couple of action sequences, screen specific pop-up text factoids (and "joke-toids") about the film, and a large number of deleted scenes (indicated with a flashing red police light and red-colored letterbox bars), and "raw footage" of outtakes/bloopers (indicated with a flashing blue police light and blue-colored letterbox bars). During brief lulls in the audio and video based commentary, the viewer is also treated to ten pop-up videos of actor Seann William Scott in character offering up bits of Wisdom from the S--- Bandit. Adding a smidgen of interactivity, there are also nine prompts scattered throughout the MCM presentation offering opportunities to play branching "Focus Point" featurettes on specific topics by pressing "enter" on the player's remote. Smith handles the lion's share of the commentary, but there are a few comments included from Production Assistant Matt Cohen, and actor Seann William Scott, which are mostly just jokes and gags.
As revising the description of the feature from the standard Maximum Movie Mode to Smith's preferred Maximum Comedy Mode suggests, there is as much or more emphasis on comedic content as behind the scenes content, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Freed from the requirements of supporting a narrative, I found myself entertained by the bonus material and self-deprecating comments by Smith as much or more than the film proper. There is no chapter menu for the MCM feature, but chapter skipping via the DVD remote is supported. In addition to the behind the scenes information and self-deprecating comments that are Smith's forte, viewers who enjoyed nearly any part of the film should be able to find some kind of an expansion of it via extended scenes or out-takes. My favorite bits were the out-takes involving Kevin Pollak and Adam Brody, which accompany all but one of the scenes featuring them together in the film. Fans of Tracy Morgan will no doubt enjoy the extended "Poop litany" from the beach scene and the additional tortilla chip munching takes. Fans of Seann William Scott will be treated to a "remix" of his various attempts at creating an extemporaneous "CCD" song, and a deleted alternate pay-off for his character that plays out over several scenes. Two alternate openings and a deleted final scene demonstrate how the film could have been much worse had they been included. Smith has never skimped on entertaining and/or informative extras with his special edition DVDs and this Blu-ray carries on that tradition.
Viewable separately from their branching MCM mode presentation are all of the Focus Points (21:22 w/"Play All"). They are viewable individually or via a "Play All" menu selection and are organized as follows:
- Cop-Out AKA "A Couple of Dicks" (1:05) discusses the reasons behind changing the film's title from its original name of "A Couple of Dicks". After the trouble Kevin Smith had promoting "Zack and Miri Make a Porno", he appears to have adopted the "Fool me twice, shame on me" approach to risque film titles. Various members of the film's cast also propose alternate titles for the film of their own. On-camera comments are provided by Smith, Michele Trachtenberg, Tracy Morgan, Adam Brody, Sean Cullen, Guillermo Diaz, Writers Robb and Mark Cullen, Ana de la Reguera, and Francie Swift.
- The New Buddy Cop Duo (3:26) focuses on Willis and Morgan individually together with various members of the cast and crew offering praise for their co-stars and their chemistry. On-camera comments are offered by Producer Mark Platt, Bruce Willis, Cory Fernandez, Morgan, Trachtenberg, Diaz, and Brody
- Kevin Pollak - Man of a Thousand Voices and Interests (1:42) Focuses on the professional comedian and actor who plays a supporting role in the film, paying special attention to his antics on-set, inclusive of generous helpings of his Christopher Walken impersonation which was very popular with the rest of the cast and crew. Comments are provided by Smith, Brody, and Pollak.
- Improvising - Now That's Funny (3:29) looks at how improvisations were incorporated into the film via "bonus" takes shot after the dialog as written had been captured. Comments are offered by Platt, Seann William Scott, Smith, Diaz, Willis, and de la Reguera.
- Poh Boy's Diamond Vault (2:07) features actor Guillermo Diaz in character as Poh Boy giving a guided tour of the sets including all of his baseball memorabilia while explaining the questionable methods by which he came across each piece.
- Stunts - Brooklyn Style (3:02) looks at the films atypically large and elaborate number of stunts by the standards of previous Kevin Smith films. Comments are offered by Smith, Platt, Morgan, Brody, Stunt Coordinator Jery Hewitt, and Scott.
- Tracy Morgan Speaks Spanglish (2:31) focuses on Tracy Morgan in general for its first half and then specifically on the ... let's call it "unique" approach to the Spanish language that he brought to the film for his character. Comments are offered by Diaz, Trachtenberg, de la Reguera, Scott, Fernandez, and Morgan
- Dave's Calling Card (:48) riffs on Scott's character from the film with other cast members suggesting what their own robbery "calling cards" would be. Participants include Scott, de la Reguera, Trachtenberg, Sean Cullen, and Morgan.
- Kevin Smith Directs (3:11) is a praise-fest for Director Smith occasionally interrupted by some brief information about his working methods with comments from Diaz, Pollak, Fernandez, Morgan, Trachtenberg, de la Reguera, Scott, and Brody
Also viewable separately from their random appearances throughout the MCM feature are all ten pieces of Wisdom from the S--- Bandit (4:04 w/Play All). They are viewable individually for those who like to mete out their false wisdom in easily digestible morsels or collectively via a "Play All" selection. Titles are as follow: Dave's Advice for Future Generations, Dave's Thoughts on Fate, Dave Supports the Arts, Dave Takes a Stand for Women's Rights, Dave on Violence, Dave is Deep (About Food), Dave on Privacy, Dave's Thoughts on Friendship, Dave Doesn't Fear the Light, and Dave's Thoughts on the Environment. These idiotic musings are much funnier as random idiotic musings as part of the MCM mode presentation, but I suppose the disc producers did not think it would be fair to deprive viewers with Profile 1.0 players of the benefits of this wisdom.
The main menu also allows viewers to select a BD-Live option from the main menu. This connects to Warner's BD-Live portal, which includes the standard promotional features and "Host a Screening" functionality, but did not include any Cop Out-specific features at the time of this posting aside from a brief promo for the Blu-ray that consists of the Kevin Smith introduction for the Maximum Comedy Mode feature where he goofs on the Warner logo.
SD DVD & Digital Copy - As is the case with all recent Warner BDs of theatrical new release titles, a separate disc is included with an SD DVD of the film and a digital copy. The DVD presentation is bare bones with the film in 16:9 enhanced widescreen video, English Dolby Digital 5.1 sound, and available English SDH, French, or Spanish subtitles. It has no extras. The video carries noticeable but not excessive signs of mpeg-2 compression and minor aliasing, but looks pretty decent for most of the film's running time. The bit-rate seems to suffer a bit more towards the end of he film as evidenced by an establishing shot of a wedding with a slow camera movement and/or zooming that is riddled with compression artifacts. The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is encoded at 384 kbps with fidelity suffering a bit due to the relatively low bit-rate.
The digital copy is on-disc, and is compatible with either iTunes or Windows Media formats. It is unlocked through the use of a one-time password provided on a paper insert to the disc case. The film is entirely encoded on the first layer of the dual layered DVD-9 while the digital copies are on the second layer.
The disc is enclosed in a standard Blu-ray case with an extra hub on the inner left side allowing it to accommodate the DVD/digital copy disc as well as the BD of the film. The only inserts are a generic "BD-Live - Here's What You Will Need" information sheet and a sheet with the code to unlock the iTunes or Windows Media digital copies. For the first time in recent memory, Warner has surrendered the high ground with respect to eschewing cutesy names for its special edition home video releases, dubbing this release of Cop Out the "Rock out with Your Glock Out Edition". Et tu, Warner?
Kevin Smith's Cop Out is a comic homage to the golden age of cop movies that does not quite succeed due to its schizophrenic desire to have its cake and eat it too when it comes to being a straight homage as well as a broad comedy. It still contains some easy pleasures for those nostalgic for the era of Lethal Weapon and 48 Hours as well as a do anything for a laugh sensibility that pays off intermittently. It is presented with solid if unremarkable high-definition audio and video appropriate for how the film was shot, and has an excellent "Maximum Comedy Mode" multimedia commentary feature that in some ways was more successful at entertaining me than the film itself.