Jimmy (Bruce Willis), a swinging-dick career cop threatened by his ex-wife's new husband (Jason Lee), tries to sell a treasured baseball card so he can pay for his daughter's wedding. That plan immediately goes awry, thanks to interventions from Seann William Scott as a parkour-practicing thief, and the scene-swiping Guillermo Diaz as a textbook Mexican movie gangster with an atypical baseball obsession. Jimmy and partner Paul (Tracy Morgan) have no choice but to Break All the Rules. Cop Out immortalizes its heroes as stock crime-flick badasses in their very first frame—with the black-cop/white-cop buddies swaggering toward the camera to the Beastie Boys. But director Kevin Smith (who didn't write Cop Out; this is the Clerks auteur's first feature-length work for hire) soon swerves into smarter territory: Determined to prove his bad-cop "acting" chops to a skeptical Jimmy, Paul interrogates a perp by subjecting him to an unrelenting marathon of movie-character impersonations. And so Cop Out announces itself as both a loving homage to "everything on cable" and a sly subversion of the genre. It's a movie that shamelessly traffics in the clichés of other cop movies, while also engaging both characters and audience in the sport of catching those references. Cop Out only works as well as it does—and it works exponentially better than it should—because the movie-trivia game is played smirk-free, with palpable joy from everyone involved. KARINA LONGWORTH
We like Willis (left) and Morgan; they like snacks.
Opens at Metro and other theaters, Fri., Feb. 26. Rated R. 110 minutes.