MCN Columnists
Douglas Pratt

By Douglas Pratt

Cop Out

Kevin Smith constructs an epic picture-in-picture commentary on the Warner Home Video Blu-ray release of Cop Out, stretching the 107-minute film to 175 minutes with asides, deleted scenes, outtakes and so on. At times, he not only delivers his spiel for the film, but he doubles or even triples his image to talk to himself about the movie and about his own indulgences.

Seann William Scott, who has a secondary role in the film, also recorded some material interacting with Smith, or at least pretending to. Smith’s riffs on the world of movies and moviemaking are always engaging, as much for the speed and dexterity with which his mind works as for the information he has to share, and with the elaborate BD presentation, rather than being an unseen voice, he becomes the film’s ringmaster, taking you through the movie, showing you the choices he had for various comedy scenes and guiding you over the construction of every sequence.

Poor Bruce Willis must have a hole on the inside of his mouth after all of the times he has to bite his lip to keep from laughing and wrecking the scenes in the enjoyable 2010 comedy, kind of an homage to the urban buddy movies of the Eighties (there is even a cheap little electronic keyboard musical score). Willis and Tracy Morgan play a pair of somewhat inept Brooklyn cops, who get suspended for messing up a drug investigation. They must then go chasing after the drug kingpin themselves, because he has something of value that was stolen from Willis’ character.

In any case, Morgan’s lovey-dovey antics are consistently humorous, and as funny as it is for the viewer, it is clearly absolute torture for Willis to try to keep a straight face and repeat his lines while responding to Morgan (and later, to Scott, who plays a wise-talking thief they pick up). Even Smith, who also took credit for the editing, gives up here and there, letting in a smirk or a laugh that is barely in character, probably because it was the only take where Willis had it even partially under control (Smith says in the commentary that one of his goals was to get Willis to break a smile during a take). The geography of the final shoot-out is a little off, and there are a few sequences where Smith’s duller image compositions go on a little too long without variation, but for the most part, the film is totally enjoyable, with one engaging comedic moment after another.

A second platter is included that contains a DVD copy of the film and a copy that can be downloaded onto handheld viewing devices. The BD is presented in letterboxed format with an aspect ratio of about 2.35:1. The color transfer is solid and the DTS sound is clear, although dimensional effects are limited and the musical score is intended to be on the wussy side. There are alternate French and Spanish tracks in 5.1-channel Dolby Digital and optional English, French and Spanish subtitles, along with 4 minutes of Scott sharing mangled New Age proverbs and 21 minutes of eccentric but informative production featurettes.

Douglas Pratt’s DVD-Laser Disc Newsletter is published monthly.
For a free sample, call (516)594-9304 or go to his website at

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The Ultimate DVD Geek

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon