Cop Out successfully blends action and comedy

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Former indie director Kevin Smith (Clerks, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back) didn’t write the screenplay for Cop Out, the cop-buddy action comedy starring Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan as hapless NYPD cops; it was written by Robb and Mark Cullen. But you would never know it: the movie is landscaped with Smith’s brand of laid-back, affectionately profane male banter. Remarkably, in his first foray into this well-worn genre, Smith achieves what many have failed to do: blend action successfully with comedy. Even the most tired cop-movie tropes (the police captain exasperated with the team’s unorthodox methods, the divorced cop dealing with his ex-wife) feel refreshed here. Willis is veteran cop Jimmy Monroe, whose childlike partner, Paul Hodges (Tracy Morgan) is prone to giving Jimmy sentimental anniversary cards and intimidating suspects by reciting dialogue, badly, from famous cop movies. Paul worries about his wife (Rashida Jones) cheating on him, while Jimmy frets about how to pay for his daughter’s wedding. Jimmy’s plan to sell a valuable baseball card is foiled when obnoxious robber Dave (Seann William Scott, very funny) steals it, leading Jimmy and Paul into an underworld of violent Mexican drug dealers. The action plot is beside the point; the comic byplay is the heart of the movie, which, like most of Smith’s films — and unlike most action movies — is funny, humane and rather sweet. *** 1/2

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