Movie Review: ‘Cop Car’
Starring: Hays Wellford, James Freedson-Jackson, and Kevin Bacon
Plot: Two young boys find an abandoned cop car and go for a joy ride.
I have always had a soft spot for movies about kids running away and going on an adventure. Goonies. Stand By Me. Monster Squad! Mud was probably the last good one. Here, director Watts puts his two miniature competitive spirits smack dab in the middle of a field talking about where they are going to run away to. It is no time at all before they cross paths with an empty cop car. Their childhood innocence and curiosity is hilarious here. They throw a rock to see if they can get the attention of a cop that might be hiding and then get worried about fingerprints they left on the tiny stone. This sets the tone for this darkly comedic tale of two boys trying to one up themselves with little to no appreciation for the dangers of what they are doing, from trying to see how fast they can get the car to pointing live weapons at each other while wearing Kevlar.
Running parallel to their story is the story of Kevin Bacon’s hapless mustachioed sheriff. It is his car they made off with when he was too busy burying “secrets” to notice. Bacon keys into a truly villainous unlikability and a slapsticky likable sense of humor. It is a confusing mix that might not have worked in a movie that wasn’t experimenting with mixing genres as much as this one. Bacon’s sheriff would have been right at home in a Home Alone movie, except here he has a much sharper edge thanks to the R-rating.
Things go from bad to worse when the boys find some of other secrets in the trunk that Bacon did not get a chance to bury yet. It sets the table for a climax for all the characters to unite, including Camryn Manheim’s concerned citizen character who witnessed the boys’ earlier antics. The dark slapstick revs up here before settling into a ticking time bomb sense of urgency that really got my heart racing. It is here that the movie makes up for any occasional dip in tone and pacing that may have occurred earlier in the film.
This unique combination of genre thrills and chills, acerbic wit, and childlike innocence makes for a stand out film. Watts should have no problem taking over Spider-Man.