Space Cop (2016), an Extended Review

Space Cop

Director(s) – Jay Bauman, Mike Stoklasa

Write – Mike Stoklasa

Starring – Rich Evans, Mike Stoklasa

Released recently on DVD after a gestation period of eight years, Space Cop is a delightfully surprising comedy romp. Mercilessly lampooning two genres simultaneously, possible three – (buddy cop comedy, renegade cop and Sci-Fi) – Stoklasa and Bauman bring you possibly the funniest film of the year so far, and certainly the biggest surprise.

The plot is delightfully daft. A police officer from the future of space, Space Cop (Evans) travels back in time to the present and is teamed up with an officer from the past, Officer Cooper (Stoklasa) who is unfrozen in the present. Together, they must defeat evil aliens with a sinister plan. It’s the good kind of B-Movie fun you can’t help but shamelessly adore.

Good parody, the kind that leaves a lasting impression, does so not by taking the aesthetics of a genre and making lame jokes around it that don’t derive from the source text. This is best seen in Disaster Movie, Meet the Spartans, and all the other abominations of cinema put out by Friedberg and Seltzer. Rather, it works best when the comedy comes from our understanding of cinematic tropes; the way Team America mercilessly and brilliantly lampooned action films whilst using a script that could be taken seriously by any one of them. In that way, Space Cop is delightful, and it plays on conventions in every way.

The dialogue is deliberately wacky and silly, and Space Cop himself is just a walking bag of one-liners for the most part. The genius part? He’s absolutely awful at them, and downright nonsensical. He plays it straight, for the most part, and is at times a hilarious parody of every renegade cop ever, whilst predominantly lampooning Judge Dredd.

There is one hilarious, if brutal, moment where he goes so renegade he allows a doll, masquerading as a baby, to boil alive. He then puts the icing on a savage cake by nonchalantly telling his boss ‘I didn’t kill that baby. The hot water did’.  I also say masquerading because this film really goes all the way with its tribute to poor 80’s Sci-Fi, including the micro budget, down to deploying a plastic doll baby.

Coop is also a fantastic character, as the seventies cop thrown into 2016. Coming to terms with his not being able to smoke anywhere, and women having rights, leads to some fantastic moments, and both leads play off each other pretty well, if a bit deliberately stilted at times.

The script is a perfect example of the sort of thing you’d see within the genre and most of the best jokes hit home. Everything is touched upon; from Star Wars to Lethal Weapon, and the writers are not afraid to go anywhere. This leads to a great game of ‘spot the reference’.

It’s not perfect; some jokes are simply poor, others initially funny but held on too long perhaps. Whilst it’s the Sci-Fi/Cop-Movie equivalent of Team America, it never quite manages to sustain the level of brilliance throughout. The good moments though are fantastic and the film is endlessly quotable, it’s just a crying shame that these occasional misfires at times drag down the great stuff that came before. Fortunately, the good outweighs the bad, and the good is great.

I particularly loved the joke where a character asks Space Cop his name, and when he replies ‘Space Cop’, he inquires as to whether it’s his real name. Space Cop replies that when one becomes a Space Cop, they must legally change their name to Space Cop. A wonderful little joke on its own, at least in terms of my own sense of humour, but it’s punctuated by the next line he delivers – ‘It’s a stupid name, I know. I wish I’d kept my original name now. Madicky. Holden Madicky.’. Ok, maybe I’m juvenile, but it got a loud laugh out of me at the time.

The performances are hard to gauge, really, because Stoklasa clearly wanted this to mimic those poor B-Movies to a tee, poor acting included. As such, everything is very deliberately hammy and over the top. Are they entertaining though? Certainly. You’d just have to see the actors in a more straight and serious scenario to truly sense their levels of ability.

Along with the occasional inconsistencies with the humours success rate, there are a couple of other issues that bring the film down a bit. The big meta joke of ripping on low-budget Sci-Fi by being micro-budget, down to poor sound mixing and all, could be overlooked by a lot of people, and in turn they’d simply see a terribly made movie. Arguably, it is, but we know that’s deliberate. If you’re not in on the joke, this doesn’t work so well.

Also, they perhaps drive the micro budget joke too far, and at times you genuinely wonder how much was planned (I.E, poor sound mixing) and how much was simply a result of the budget cuts. What was deliberate and what wasn’t becomes a distraction at times, if you’re a person who tends to think deeply about the construction of your films. Also, it drags on a bit, and could do with shaving twenty minutes.

Still, as far as comedy goes at the very least, this is easily the funniest thing I’ve seen all year, and I’ve seen Deadpool. A beautiful love letter to the 80’s that anybody with a soft spot for B-Movies will find almost impossible to love, Space Cop is a satirical blast, and endlessly quotable.

Final Rating – 3.9/5

Joshua Moulinie

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