I knew nothing about "Cop Car" when I spotted the Bluray on the new release shelf at Best Buy but the story sounded interesting and Kevin Bacon is always good so I took a chance for the $10 sale price. The movie is entertaining if rather implausible. But it's a tight 90 minutes and things move along pretty quickly so it's not too difficult to overlook the plot contrivances and enjoy it in a Coen Brothers-lite kind of way.
Two ten-year old boys find the titular cop car abandoned in a field. A series of dares escalates and finds them not only inside the car but finding the keys and stealing the vehicle. How much you enjoy the movie may depend on your willingness to believe two ten-year olds can teach themselves to drive in a short amount of time. While the filmmakers briefly show them struggling to figure out the gears and pedals, the kids were still able to maneuver and do things experienced drivers would probably find difficult. Wisely, though, there's not too much focus on the boys' joyriding. Just as often we see the car pulled over on the side of the road while the two bicker or play with the arsenal of police gear they find in the backseat.
Bacon plays the sheriff whose car goes missing while conducting some nefarious activity in the nearby woods. (Another plot hole: out in the middle of nowhere why didn't he hear his car being started and driven away?) Bacon does a good job riding a fine line between semi-bumbling cop and menacing corrupt villain. We never learn exactly what he's involved in or what events led him to the point of leaving his car for the kids to find. On the one hand motives don't really matter as we're more concerned with Bacon's pursuit of the two boys and his car. Still, the movie is light on characterization so it might have helped to develop his back story a bit more. We don't learn anything about the two boys' backgrounds either.
The acting by all the main actors is good. Bacon, of course, is a seasoned pro and handles the role deftly. Camryn Manheim and Shea Whigham are excellent in supporting roles. Hays Wellford and James-Freedson Jackson have a nice camaraderie as the two young protagonists and turn in natural, believable performances. A bit more character development and less ambiguous ending would have helped make this a solid B-movie. As it is I'd recommend renting with lowered expectations.