02nd Jul2018

Cinepocalypse 2018: ‘The Cop Baby’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Elizaveta Arzamasova, Sergey Garmash, Yang Ge, Kseniya Lavrova-Glinka, Andrey Nazimov, Yan Tsapnik | Written by Andrey Zolotarev | Directed by Alexander Andrushenko

cop-baby-poster

Sometimes there are films that come along that tap directly into my psyche, with plots so ridiculous, so outrageous, that they engage my “must-see” synapses… The Cop Baby is one such film. After all, how could I not want to see a film with a synopsis like this:

Having failed a large covert operation and being cursed by a vengeful fortune teller, Major Chromov is trapped inside a baby’s body. The only way for Major Chromov to return to his body is to finish the operation and hunt down the most dangerous crime boss of the local mafia as a M*******KING COP BABY.

Let’s get this out of the way first… The Cop Baby is no Cop and a Half. Nope, this is not played for laughs, despite the screwball nature of the titular baby’s father and the overall premise, instead this Russian-made movie is more like a grindhouse take on the buddy-cop action/drama of the first, much darker Lethal Weapon, by way of a family-friendly flick a la the Russian-lensed Black Lightning (which was edited by this films director Alexander Andrushenko). It’s an odd dichotomy, never quite living up to the potential of either influence, yet still being another fantastic example of Russian genre cinema.

But its dichotomy which actually helps makes The Cop Baby work. Be it seeing the titular character running around with the body of a toddler and the gruff voice of Major Chromov; or seeing weedy Environmental Officer Leykin, the father of this cop baby and the only one who knows that Chromov and his son have switched bodies, trying to act like a hard-nosed cop under the instruction of a baby; or seeing a baby do things no baby should – drive a car, swear, etc., it’s the surreal oddness that keeps the audiences interest beyond what is, honestly, a slight story.

Much like other Russian genre fare such as Guardians, Queen of Spades and the aforementioned Black Lightning, The Cop Baby has – at its core – a very moral, very pro-family, stance. Leykin follows Major Chromov even in his own childs body because he’s very moralistic, he believes in the police code, he believes in doing what’s right. Even if he’s only an Environmental cop! Major Chromov, a curmudgeonly cop if ever there was one, comes to realise that his behaviour is wrong and he learns to better himself and, more importantly, trust others. He even atones for his past behaviour, behaviour which got him into this mess in the first place.

Ultimately The Cop Baby is, despite the bizarre nature of the synopsis, very much the epitomy of a PG-13 family-friendly movie – it has all the elements to keep kids entertained (I guarantee kids will love seeing a baby running round “playing cop”) and will appeal to those adults who want to see something completely different; because this film certainly is different – and I loved it!

**** 4/5

The Cop Baby screened, on June 25th, at the Music Box Theatre in Chicago as part of Cinepocalypse 2018.

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