When I told a friend of mine that I was going to be reviewing this week, he leaned over in a conspiratorial whisper and said, “You know, that’s not really Kevin’s movie.”
While true that compared to previous films Kevin Smith has directed, this is the first one in which he has not also written the screenplay. There has not been any mention of the director of and in any of the advertising because this film is nothing like any of his other films. In fact, this film hardly resembles anything entertaining.
The basic plot of this film is that one half of a buddy cop team (Bruce Willis) loses a very valuable baseball card, and he and his partner (Tracy Morgan) get into mischief as they look across the city trying to find it. I could tell you more about the plot, but it hardly matters. Films like this live and die on the chemistry between their leads, not the story.
Unfortunately, there is nearly zero chemistry between Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan. Having Bruce Willis as a detective offers ample opportunity for parody considering his action movie past, but that opportunity is largely squandered. Willis looks perpetually amused throughout the film, as if to say, “I can’t believe I’m getting paid to goof off on a movie set.” That makes two of us.
Meanwhile, Tracy Morgan is swinging for the fences on every pitch, going for the comic jugular with every over-emotive mugging for the camera. Occasionally, this style works, particularly when it comes off as an extension to Morgan’s over-enthusiastic character. I can’t imagine another actor getting away with the line “I love you like a fat kid loves cake!” The rest of the time, I could feel my teeth ground together in irritation.
Seann William Scott shows up in the film as well. You remember Stifler from the series, right? He’s not bad, but he’s not really good, either.This is the norm in this film. In fact, there is no shortage of decent comic actors in this movie, yet not a single one of them are significantly funny. The whole tone of the film isn’t suspenseful, action-packed or funny. It is none of the things we hoped for when we walked in to this film. So who shall we blame?
Let’s blame someone who clearly phoned this one in, because there is not a single inspired moment in this movie. There was a time when Smith refused to direct The Green Hornet because he didn’t think he would be able to handle a film with action sequences and should have stuck with that.
Even if Smith didn’t write the script, this is still his movie. Sadly, he makes the Farrelly Brothers () look like auteur by comparison. Hopefully Smith brings a little more enthusiasm to his next project, because this movie suffers the standard Spring malaise of being boring, and there is no greater crime for a comedy movie than this.
I’ll give this movie an extra half of a star for Tracy Morgan, who despite his excesses was the only person in this movie to illicit a genuine laugh from me (or anyone else in the audience for that matter.) Anyone who manages this in a film like deserves a modicum of respect. But don’t let this faint praise steer you towards the theatre, save your pennies and watch (a buddy cop film starring Bruce Willis and Damon Wayans that is actually funny) instead.