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Cop Out

Year: 2010
Studio: Warner Bros
Director: Kevin Smith
Writer: Mark Cullen/Robb Cullen
Cast: Bruce Willis, Tracy Morgan, Kevin Pollack, Jason Lee

Kevin Smith's like a comedy M Night Shyamalan. His auspicious bow with Clerks made him one of the patron saints of the scrappy DIY film movement where you rope in your friends, max out your credit cards and stories about the shoot become part of the film's zeitgeist.

But, like Shyamalan's after his debut The Sixth Sense wowed the world, each subsequent Smith film has been lesser than the one before it. I haven't seen Jersey Girl at the time of writing this film and from what I hear it's definitely the low point of his career, but I think this one comes pretty close.

Not because it's a bad film – the story of two cops on the trail of an expensive baseball card so one of them can pay for his daughter's wedding by selling it is an okay enough premise, and there are enough gags and comic chemistry between leads Willis and Morgan to sustain it.

But it feels symptomatic of Smith settling lazily into the comfortable folds of the studio system. Fighting for every cent he had to make his movies used to give him an edge that made his childish, profane ideas seem better than they were. Without having to put himself to too much stress, he doesn't have the fire he once had.

There are giggles throughout and the story services them adequately (it's the first time Smith has directed somebody else's script), but you can't help thinking you're watching the work of a filmmaker who's fading away before his time.

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