Thursday, February 25, 2010

Cop Out

What do you get when you take Bruce Willis (Die Hard), Tracy Morgan (30 Rock), a valuable baseball card, a Mexican gangbanger named Poh Boy, a free-running burglar, a teddy bear with a hidden camera, a stolen car, a lot of cursing, and have Kevin Smith direct it all? You get the new buddy-cop comedy “Cop Out”

Willis and Morgan play veteran New York police officers Jimmy Monroe and Paul Hodges, who after nine years together as partners have just been suspended for a month after spectacularly screwing up a case and embarrassing the entire department. This is bad for Monroe, as his daughter (Michelle Trachtenberg: “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) is getting married and the bill is going to be $48,000, so he can hardly afford a month without pay.

In order to get the money to pay for the wedding Monroe decides to sell an extremely valuable Andy Pafko baseball card. Unfortunately the sports card shop is robbed during the sale, and the card is stolen by a quirky and somewhat annoying thief, Dave (Seann William Scott: “American Pie”), and the quest to retrieve the card quickly gets the two detectives caught in the middle of the plans of an up and coming Mexican drug dealer.

I will admit that from the trailers and the title I expected that this to be something like one of the fictional movies that Tracy Jordan would have starred in on “30 Rock”, but I am happy to say that I was totally wrong. “Cop Out” may not be original, it may not be action pakced, and it certainly isn't family friendly, but it is a lot of fun to watch.

To say the humour in this movie is childish would be an understatement. Not only are there the requisite poop and dick jokes, but there are actually knock-knock jokes, and a couple of scenes with Scott's character copying everything other characters say in order to piss them off. This is not a slight on the movie though, as you weren't expecting highbrow humour from a film like this anyway, but this is the only movie I can think of where a knock knock joke has actually made me laugh out loud.

It is nice to see Bruce Willis playing the snarky cop again, bringing back shades of the “Die Hard” trilogy (there is no fourth film). There's nothing about this character that we haven't seen him play before, but it's nice to see him playing it again in a movie that doesn't suck.

As for Tracy Morgan, he brings to the screen the same sort of borderline mentally handicapped character he plays on “30 Rock”, so if you like Tracy Jordan, then you should enjoy Paul Hodges. Morgan steals more than a couple scenes based on the fact that his idea of playing good cop/bad cop means doing (frequently random) movie quotes from movies like “Heat”, “Jaws”, and “Star Wars”. Morgan ultimately brings an almost frenetic Robin Williams-esque vibe to the role, and I fully expect to see a number of deleted scenes with him when this comes out on DVD.

“Cop Out” dances along the line between plausible and zany. This is not a “Police Squad” style parody, but it's also not as straight as a “Lethal Weapon” movie. Characters frequently do things that are just beyond the bounds of believability, but never so much as to actually ruin your suspension of disbelief.

If you are looking for a buddy cop film with less violence and more laughs than a “From Paris With Love” then “Cop Out” is the perfect flick for you. It won't make you think, but it will make you laugh. There's no real reason not to just wait and give this a rental, but if you want a good laugh you could do a whole lot worse.

“Cop Out” opens fire on theaters starting February 26th.

Friday, February 5, 2010

From Paris With Love

Some people are just never satisfied with what they have. Take James Reece (Jonathan Rhys Meyers: “The Tudors”) for example. He lives in Paris, works in the US embassy, is the personal assistant to the ambassador, has a hot girlfriend, Caroline (Kasia Smutniak), but he's still not happy. Reece wants more; Reece wants to be a special operative.

Finally Reece gets his chance. All he has to do is meet his new partner at the airport where he has been detained by customs, and accompany him on his mission. If he can pull this off, he's in. Sounds simple, right? Well, maybe if his new partner was a reasonable by-the-books kind of guy like him it would be.

Enter Charlie Wax (John Travolta: “Pulp Fiction”), a shaved headed, foulmouthed, insanely violent, impulsive special agent who is currently fighting with customs agents over whether or not he can bring a bag full of energy drinks into the country. Straight-laced chess-playing James is going to have a long day.

“From Paris With Love” is the latrest film from director Pierre Morel who brought us 2008's underrated “Taken”. “From Paris” dispenses with a lot of the long story set up of “Taken” and jumps right into the action, only bothering to fill in the plot as the movie goes on. The other big difference from “Taken”, aside from no real setup to the actual story, is that this is not a tale of a loner seeking vengeance, but more of an “Odd Couple” buddy cop film.

The first half of the movie is spent with Reece following Wax around Paris with a gun in one hand and a vase full for cocaine in the other as he starts gunfights with minorities seemingly almost at random. I had a little trouble with this as it felt almost like I was watching a video game without any cutscenes to explain why the bald psychopath is shooting up a Chinese restaurant or a mannequin factory.

As if the seemingly random nature of the action weren't enough, there's the matter of Charlie Wax's appearance. Travolta's character dresses like someone at least ten years younger than he is with a large earring dangling from one ear, and shiny leather jacket. It takes a little getting used to, but as the film progresses and the plot is revealed it all starts to gel into something at least acceptable if not quite beleivable.

While I'm picking on things, lets just say that if you are looking for something tense and suspenseful, look somewhere else. This movie is incredibly predictable; I had the main plot twist figured out before Reece and Wax even meet. Don't take this to mean that I did not enjoy the film though; just because you know where you're going doesn't mean that you cannot enjoy the ride.

At it's core, “From Paris” is little more than an excuse to spend 92 minutes watching John Travolta kill people. Whether he is shooting it out with Middle Eastern drug dealers, trashing an Asian street gang, or trying to aim a rocket launcher while hanging out the window of a speeding car, Charlie Wax is a one man killing machine leaving behind a trail of corpses wherever he goes. If this is what you are looking for, then you are in luck.

If you are in the mood for a, if not good then at least fun, violent adult action flick that will require no thinking on your part (indeed thinking too deeply about it may bring up bouts of fridge logic) Then I can heartily recommend this to you. There's lots of foul language, strong violence, splattered blood, drugs (but strangely, no nudity) in this film, so you will definitely want to find a babysitter instead of taking the kids to this one.

“From Paris With Love” is stupid, violent, and fairly predictable, but it's also a hell of a lot of fun. Turn off your brain, munch your popcorn, enjoy the over-the-top violence and fun banter, and go to Paris this weekend. “From Paris With Love” is in theaters now.

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