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In which Cop Out is discussed

Posted by Mick on February 27, 2010 – 6:36 pm

The previous time I walked through the living room, the Olympics were on.  I just went to refill my tea (an Earl Grey, because I’m a pimp like that), and I noticed that Jeopardy is on.  I recall this from last week as well.  It seems that nothing can stop the onslaught of the Olympics – except Alex Trebek.

I’ve got 30 things I could talk about right now, all of which are more seductive to me than what I sat down to talk about.  But I’m going to be a responsible geek and talk about  the movie I saw today.  No matter how much it pains me.

But first, a little Crazy Little Thing Called Love.

My guitar is a wonderful tool for gathering my thoughts.  It’s also quite useful in the pursuit of procrastination.

Tara and I got up this morning and headed out to the Drafthouse for an 11:45 showing of Cop Out.  Notice I said morning.  I was dressed and out of the house before noon on a Saturday.  I love Kevin Smith, and I was expecting this movie to be… disappointing.  I decided that Creme Brulee French Toast might help soften the sting.  Thankfully, it did.  If you haven’t been to one of the original Alamo Draft House theaters (the only one’s I’ll visit) for a brunch movie on the weekend, you don’t know what you’re missing.  It’s the best French Toast I’ve ever had, and it comes with a side of fresh fruit which is just a little different every time you go – I think that’s a nice touch.  I suggest ordering a side of bacon with it, bacon makes everything better.

The movie was indeed a disappointment.  I’m willing to lay 90% of the blame squarely on the shoulders of whoever approved the script.  This is the perfect example of someone taking a book on “How To Write A Script” and following it to the letter.  All the elements are there, you can’t miss them because they almost scream at you – I’m an establishing scene!  I’m introducing conflict!  Here’s a new plot point! Those rules are wonderful, they exist for a reason, they are a crucial part of storytelling.  They are necessary, but they are not sufficient.  There’s more to storytelling than Tab A goes in to Slot B.  That’s the science of storytelling.  There’s also an art to it.  You need to create believable characters, characters who have a life beyond this story.  Characters I can actually have some sort of connection to, as opposed to a one-dimensional stereotype waving a flag screaming I’m the B plot antagonist. Your story needs to make sense.  I’m not going to give any spoilers here, but there are several glaring “What The Fuck” moments in this movie, moments where any suspension of disbelief is impossible.

This script was all science, no art.  It comes across as being outlined by a room full of producers and handed to a writer who followed their notes to the letter.

There are also a few scenes which Smith obviously wrote to interject a bit of his own sensibility into the film.  Unfortunately, Smith’s style works primarily because his characters work.  Whatever strange or fucked up things they say, it fits their character.  It seems consistent.  In COP OUT, it just seemed forced.

Now, all that said, it’s worth a watch.  Tracy Morgan, in particular, is hilarious.  This movie could very easily exist in the 30 Rock universe, where it would be a star vehicle for Tracy Jordan.  Seann William Scott also does quite well, given the fact that his character is nothing more than a gimmick.  Bruce Willis is wasted in this movie.  That makes me sad.

With the exception of some bad green screen “driving”, the movie looks great.  Smith may have done a better job of directing than he’s ever done before, but it’s hard to tell because the material is just so bad.

Would it be a spoiler to say that the score is a wonderful homage to Beverly Hills Cop?

At least that’s my take on it.  I don’t believe that any other director, or actors, could have made anything worthwhile out of this story.  Smith needs to quickly go back to doing what he does well.  Making small films for his audience.  If he wants to do another director for hire gig, he needs to pick his project a bit more carefully.

And now, there’s smoked meat with my name on it waiting for me at Johnny T’s Round Rock BBQ.  I haven’t eaten anything since that French Toast.  I haven’t eaten anything substantial since that French Toast.  Peanut Butter crackers don’t count. There may be Herzog later this evening as well.  It’s been too long, and the project looms.

Be good to each other.

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