New this week at a theatre near you: Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan star in ‘s action comedy, Cop Out; plus a look at the horror , The Crazies, starring .

Cop Out
Starring: Bruce Willis, Tracy Morgan, Seann William Scott, , , ,
Director: Kevin Smith

After seeing Cop Out, there are now two versions of Kevin Smith in my mind. The first Kevin Smith wrote and directed Clerks, Mall Rats, and Zack and Miri Make A Porno; three funny, clever films that show Smith’s ability to write amazing dialogue and tell great stories.

The other Kevin Smith is the director of Cop Out, a film that shares Smith’s sense of humour, but it’s a film that has little in common with the director’s best works. Approaching Cop Out as a fan, you might even wonder why Smith would get involved in the first place, aside from the chance to work with Bruce Willis.

Willis and Morgan star as Jimmy and Paul, a pair of New York police officers who have been suspended from the force for a month because of a botched arrest that left their informant dead, and ended up with a ridiculous video of Paul on YouTube.

For Jimmy, the problem is that he’s short on cash as it is, and to help pay for his daughter’s wedding he needs to come up with a lot of money and fast. His solution is to sell his prized 1952 Andy Pafko baseball card, but when a random thief steals his card, played by Seann William Scott, Jimmy and Paul find themselves in an awkward position involving a kidnapped woman and a local drug dealing gangster.

Written by Robb and Mark Cullen, the film is basically an homage, as the film itself pretty much admits early on, to classic police films of the last couple of decades. More to the point though, it feels like it was inspired by films like the Beverly Hills Cop or Lethal Weapon series.

Those films were great in their day, and the concept is overdue for a revival, but the Cullen’s script for Cop Out is a weak, derivative work that is chuckle-worthy, and sometimes even laugh-out-loud funny, but it’s also a very slow film that feels spread thin over the 113 minute running time.

Part of that problem is Smith’s direction, which is weak and aimless, and really made me question what he was doing working with such a mediocre script. There are moments where the dialogue is cringe-worthy, especially when it comes to the co-stars and lesser characters.

Despite the film’s failings, Willis, Morgan and Scott are a great trio, especially considering what they had to work with. Morgan and Scott in particular are as hilarious as the film allows, although they get the benefit of some of the best scenes. I was also impressed with the chemistry between Willis and Morgan, who make for a great on-screen team. It makes you wish there could be a sequel, just as long as better writers wrote the script, and Smith found some sort of motivation.

Calling Smith a bad director is hard for me, as a fan of his films, but after watching Cop Out I was left with a bad taste in my mouth. Working with someone else’s script, Smith seems lost and disconnected from the characters, and he inspires no vision from his cast or the material. Where the script fails, he fails right on top of it, and it’s only the great lead actors and their chemistry that makes the film bearable.

At the end of the film, I was left wondering why Smith would direct this sluggish buddy film, and I can only imagine it was to earn points with studio executives so he can make bigger films. Now though, he’s going to have to prove himself again to audiences who may rightfully wonder where the Kevin Smith they knew has gone.

The Crazies
Starring: Timothy Olyphant, , ,
Director:

Based somewhat loosely on George A. Romero’s classic 1973 horror thriller, Breck Eisner’s The Crazies is the story of a tiny town in Kansas that finds itself overrun with plague victims who turn insane and start killing anyone they can find.

With the military called in to shoot survivors, whether they’re infected or not, as a means to keep the virus from spreading, a small group of uninfected people try to find a way to survive, and escape the town alive.

Earning impressive reviews from critics, The Crazies is well worth a look this weekend, especially if you enjoy a good thriller of a horror movie.

“The Crazies does what an exploitation movie should: It gets in, it scares you silly, and it gets out, all while playing fair by the audience,” Ty Burr wrote for the Boston Globe.

And Rene Rodriguez of the Miami Herald wrote, “Olyphant, an actor capable of playing stoic heroes as well as sneering villains, anchors the movie with a believable sense of desperation, and the brief film doesn’t waste a second on anything that doesn’t bear directly on the crisis at hand.”