Cop and a Half


If not for the presence of Burt Reynolds, the 1993 film Cop and a Half could easily pass for a Saturday morning kid’s show. Come to think of it, Reynolds’ up and down career (more up than down at the moment thanks to his acclaimed appearance in Boogie Nights) just may sink to that level before long. Nothing, except the fear of alienating adults whose sweet tooth's have long been converted to saccharine, could justify the PG rating this film was given by the MPAA, unless you count the scenes--two of ‘em--in which Reynolds, his back to the camera, does his thing at a urinal. Everything about it is harmless, even the cartoon style villains led by Ray Sharkey (desperately ill with AIDS at the time, he died soon after), and the motorcycle gang Reynolds brawls with near the end.

Unfortunately, even at a measly 93 minutes, the film’s end is not near enough, except perhaps for Roger Ebert, one of the few major critics to praise it. Directed by Henry Winkler in the same broad style in which he played the Fonz on TV’s Happy Days, Cop and a Half’s plot concerns an eight-year-old, adorable, of course, who witnesses a murder. In order to track down and identify the killer, the police allow the tyke to accompany a detective as his sort of pint-sized partner. The kid, a big fan of TV cop shows, couldn’t be happier. The detective, a glum Reynolds, could be happier and treats the child with a patronizingly phony contempt until, predictably, the end when, by golly, Reynolds warms to the kid. You’ve probably seen it all before. I know I have.

But Cop and a Half is a kid’s movie, so one shouldn’t judge it too harshly. I won’t, but I’ll try my best not to see it again either.

Brian W. Fairbanks

© Copyright 1999, Brian W. Fairbanks. All Rights Reserved.

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