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Originally published Thursday, February 25, 2010 at 3:01 PM

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Movie review

'Cop Out': There oughta be a law against comedies this devoid of laughs

A review of "Cop Out," a buddy comedy starring Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan, directed by Kevin Smith. Unfortunately, Willis and Morgan have so little chemistry as longtime partners, it seems as though they've never met.

Seattle Times movie critic

Movie review 1.5 stars

'Cop Out,' with Bruce Willis, Tracy Morgan, Adam Brody, Kevin Pollak, Guillermo Diaz, Ana de la Reguera, Seann William Scott. Directed by Kevin Smith, from a screenplay by Robb Cullen and Mark Cullen. 113 minutes. Rated R for pervasive language including sexual references, violence and brief sexuality. Several theaters; see Page 15.

Movie review 1.5 stars

Director Kevin Smith ("Clerks") has, in recent days, been involved in a public war of words with an airline over whether he was too large to fit in a seat. Some have speculated that this might be an attempt to gain publicity for Smith's new movie, "Cop Out." Having just sat through the movie, let me suggest another interpretation: It's a distraction tactic.

"Cop Out," an unusual project for Smith in that he directed but did not write it, is a comedy mostly devoid of laughs, and mainly of interest for the opportunity it offers to observe the many variations of the Bruce Willis Smirk. Willis plays NYPD detective Jimmy Monroe, who has somehow managed to stay on the force for many years despite the fact that he and his partner, Paul Hodges (Tracy Morgan), seem fairly clueless. As the movie begins, they're suspended for botching an assignment, but they quickly get wrapped up in another crime involving the theft of Jimmy's prized baseball card.

And off we go, on a lurching story involving car chases and offshore bank accounts and a kidnapped Mexican beauty (Ana de la Reguera) and a bungling cat burglar (Seann William Scott) whose distinction is that he seems even more clueless than Jimmy and Paul. Morgan bellows all his lines, the way he does on "30 Rock" (though it works better there), and Willis responds to every situation — a joke, a gun to his head, a strained meeting with his daughter's stepfather — with a smirk, as if he's amused that he's actually getting paid for this. (We're less amused.) Though these two are supposed to be longtime partners, they have so little chemistry it's as if they've never met.

Susie Essman enlivens things for a few minutes, as a tough homeowner who isn't about to put up with a pair of dimwit cops who don't even know how to use a doormat. But more often, Smith and screenwriters Robb and Mark Cullen resort to swearing 10-year-olds and lots of gunfire as punch lines. "Cop Out" just plods along, overlong and underwitted, to its predictable conclusion. It's about as much fun as flying coach, and — if you're seated next to Smith, anyway — a lot less interesting.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or mmacdonald@seattletimes.com

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