Studio: Warner Bros.

Rated: R for pervasive language including sexual references, violence and brief sexuality

Starring: Bruce Willis, Tracy Morgan, Seann William Scott, Adam Brody and Jason Lee

Directed by: Kevin Smith

What it’s about: Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan play Jimmy Monroe and Paul Hodges, two long-time detective partners who have been suspended. Jimmy needs to pay for his daughter’s wedding, so he plans to sell a rare baseball card. However, when the card is stolen in a robbery, he starts his own investigation of the thieves, which leads to a mix-up with a Mexican street gang.

What I liked: To be honest, not a whole lot. Sure, there are some decent lines and funny moments, mostly due to Seann William Scott’s goofy character. Likewise, a certain Kevin Smith charm does creep into some scenes, though the Star Wars references just seem out of place with the likes of Tracy Morgan.

What I didn’t: Cop Out is a colossal misfire on so many levels. It doesn’t hold up as a Kevin Smith film because it’s outside of the man’s wheelhouse. Without smart-talking dope dealers in the View Askewniverse, Smith hangs himself out to dry. He can’t direct action worth a damn, and he sure can’t edit it either. That’s why the trailers had some punch but the movie has none. Word is that Smith and D.P. Dave Klein (who gave us the visually dynamic and stunning look of Clerks) storyboarded the entire film at Warner Bros.’ request. Sadly, it comes off as amateurish and imitative of TV cop shows.

Cop Out doesn’t work as a Bruce Willis cop film because it’s not Willis’ forte. Bruce Willis plays a great maverick cop like John MacClane, either working solo or with a reluctant foil (e.g., Samuel L. Jackson or Justin Long). He can’t play the straight man, or it just turns out boring and uninspired. Willis phones in his role and seems to simply be doing a favor to Smith, with whom he worked on Live Free or Die Hard.

Sadly, Cop Out only works as a Tracy Morgan vehicle, and I find the man about as funny as rancid buttermilk. Morgan stumbles through the role, playing a version of his 30 Rock character, which is nothing more than a version of himself. Sure, if you love him, you’ll like this movie. But I can’t stand him.

Who is gonna like this movie: Tracy Morgan fans.

Grade: D+


Studio: Overture

Rated: R for bloody violence and language

Starring: Timothy Olyphant, Radha Mitchell, Danielle Panabaker, Joe Anderson and Preston Bailey

Directed by: Breck Eisner

What it’s about: A remake of George A. Romero’s 1973 thriller of the same name, The Crazies tells the story of a small town in Iowa that is accidentally exposed to a genetically designed virus that destabilizes a population by making them go mad. While the whole town is going violently crazy and the government has instituted a relentless quarantine, several people try to escape with their lives and sanity.

What I liked: For the most part, I have been leery of the horror movie remakes that have been pouring into the multiplexes over the past few years. However, The Crazies not only deserves to be reimagined, but it was actually improved upon with a modern update.

The story is rather simple, and the movie doesn’t try to be anything more than what it is. Unlike the original, this version ramps up the horror and terror situations. Rather than going for the outright gore and violence (though there is plenty of that, I assure you), The Crazies relies upon the audience shuddering when they think about what it would be like to be in this dreadful situation.

Like 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later, The Crazies offers a variation on the zombie theme without using real zombies. Instead, it provides a formidable and unpredictable foe. Armed with guns, knives, pitch forks and bone saws, these terrifying figures deliver some excellent modern horror movie scenes.

The Crazies offers a throwback to the horror movies of the 80s and 90s about the small town in peril, and it does so in an unflinching light. Still, just when you think the movie might be taking itself too seriously, there’s a wink and a nod to the audience that reminds us that the film is just having fun with the genre.

What I didn’t: There’s very little in this film to dislike, unless you have a weak stomach. The only problem that I found was that it ran a bit long. Still, if that’s its worst sin, the movie’s a winner in my book.

Who is gonna like this movie: Horror fans.

Grade: A-

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