February 26, 2010 at 1:00 am

Tom Long Film Review: 'Cop Out' -- GRADE: B-

Review: 'Cop Out' brings foul-mouthed wit to the buddy-cop genre

Seann William Scott, left, and Tracy Morgan in "Cop Out." (Warner Bros.)

'Cop Out" is foul-mouthed, puerile, crude, haphazard, superficial, silly and funny a lot of the time.

Of course it is. It's supposed to be that way.

That's why the producers hired indie wisenheimer, director Kevin Smith ("Clerks," "Chasing Amy," "Zack and Miri Make a Porno") to helm what would otherwise be a standard black-and-white, buddy-cop flick.

Smith certainly does his thing here, delivering a film that's part celebration and part parody of the well-worn genre.

When our heroes go to bust a major car thief, they end up with an expletive-spitting 11-year-old. When they catch a thief, they're aided by a wild-eyed housewife brandishing a gun. Whenever the duo goes to question a suspect, they break into a litany of film references. And when they rescue a hostage, it turns out she only speaks Spanish and the two never do understand a word she's saying.

The heroes in question are Bruce Willis, playing Jimmy Monroe, and Tracy Morgan ("30 Rock") as his partner Paul Hodges. Hodges is a complete buffoon -- at one point he's dressed in a cell phone costume and stealing a bike from a kid -- while Monroe is the cooler veteran who seems to enjoy his longtime partner's erratic behavior.

As the film begins, Monroe is faced with the impending cost of his daughter's (Michele Trachtenberg) wedding, while Hodges is worried his wife (Rashida Jones) might be having an affair. Hodges decides to spy on his wife; Monroe decides to sell a baseball card worth $80,000 to pay for the wedding.

Neither plan works out too well.

Soon enough our boys are mixed up with a bunch of Mexican drug dealers, rescuing the aforementioned hostage, screaming along the streets of New York in an obligatory car chase and shooting people left and right. Good times.

Actually, they are good-enough times. The basic script by Robb and Mark Cullen may or may not have had a whole lot of Kevin Smith attitude, but the end product certainly does, and it makes the experience better than it should be.

Ultimately, though, "Cop Out" works as a lot of funny bits with funny characters played by good actors, not as a movie per se.

Seann William Scott pretty much steals the film as a motor-mouthed, irritating thief, but it's not like he's integral to anything. Same goes with the delinquent car thief, the hilarious hostage and Kevin Pollak and Adam Brody, as a pair of cowboy-boot comparing detectives.

They're all funny. You don't believe any of them for a second. And the story could go right on without any of them. But given how trite the story is, you're glad it doesn't.

The designated funny man here is Morgan, but in truth the bigger laughs come from Willis as he reacts to his partner. Willis never strains for a laugh; he just swoops in and grabs them.

Morgan, on the other hand, is about the broadest comic around, and he attacks scenes like they're his wife's new boyfriend. A bit of Morgan can go a long way -- there are those who find his moronic persona offensive -- and there's quite a bit of Morgan in "Cop Out," although Smith does manage to capture his best notes.

"Cop Out" is nothing special, and it runs about 15 minutes too long; but it's funny enough if you're up for mounds of swear words, some dumb bathroom humor, standard action stuff and a series of affectionately absurd characters.

Smith goads the cop-buddy genre while embracing it, offering up some harmless fun sprinkled with satire. It ain't great, but it ain't bad.

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Tracy Morgan, left, and Bruce Willis are longtime NYPD partners on the ... (Warner Bros. Pictures)
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