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Bad Boys
1995 - R - 118 Mins.
Director: Michael Bay
Producer: Jerry Bruckeimer
Written By: George Callo
Starring: Martin Lawrence, Will Smith, Tea Leoni, Joe Pantoliano
Review by: John Ulmer
"We're your new neighbors."
"Don't be alarmed, we're negros!"

I got that quote from the IMDb entry for "Bad Boys." I read some others, and what struck me as funny is that out of all the quotes from the movie that those perusing IMDb have submitted, none have any lines about the plot. All the quotes available are jokes and punchlines that occur in the film between shoot-outs. Nothing else.

But I suppose that fits the film just right. It's not a film for those who have any interest in plot, character development, or comedy - things a film such as "Lethal Weapon" had. No, "Bad Boys" is content with being a bad movie. It's for those with low attention spans. It's for those who like non-stop violence and language. But then, anyone interested in "Bad Boys" by now must be warned that the action scenes provide hardly anything new - some shoot-ups, some shoot-outs, some shoot-downs, etc. I am content with recommending action movies (trust me). But sometimes I expect a bit more than just bad jokes and bad action scenes - if it's going to be an action movie, at least make the fight scenes offer something fresh.

There's a buddy side to the film that never provides the type of humor that it should. Martin Lawrence and Will Smith play Marcus Burnett and Mike Lowrey, family man and playboy respectively. They're both undercover in Narcotics division, but yet they find time to stumble upon and into things that have nothing to do with drugs whatsoever. Never mind this.

The film opens with an explosive prelude that signals we are in for a Bruckheimer production. It's loud, noisy, and the best part of the film. The rest is all downhill.

A stash of drugs has been stolen from a vault in some sort of super-top-secret Government facility thingy somewhere. This happens directly after the opening sequence and goes by pretty quick so that the audience can get back to the action. Marcus and Mike are called onto the scene by their Grouchy Boss (Joe Pantoliano), who likes to spew spit and bite their heads off for everything.

Pantoliano's character is the exclamation mark to the rest of the recycled characters and plots. Get this: two mismatched cop/partners who like to throw insults at each other ("Lethal Weapon") are called onto a case involving a foreign drug dealer ("Red Heat") who has left behind uncountable traces for the good guys to follow (though it sure does take them a while). Their boss delivers long, shouting speeches at them ("Last Action Hero" spoofed this finely), and they have to protect a sexy witness (Tea Leoni). Finally they go for a big shoot-'em-up at the end (this is in any action/cop-buddy movie available to the public).

"Bad Boys" is just one long shoot-'em-up flick, with a bunch of recycled action set pieces, recycled plot fragments, and when all that calms down, we are exposed to bad jokes and excessive, "pervasive strong language" as the MPAA called it. I enjoyed bits of this movie, I grinned a few times, but I laughed only once - at a joke that should have been more than a laugh. It should have had me bent over in hysterics.

Here it is, listen up: Marcus has to pose as Mike every time he is around the witness, Tea Leoni (long story). He takes her to the real Mike's apartment. She wonders why he has pictures of another black man all over the place - and keep in mind she thinks that Marcus is Mike. The pictures happen to be of Mike, since it is his apartment, so Marcus, posing as Mike, tells her it's his partner, and that they're close. The way this scene is delivered is more of a sit-com-type comedy moment - not surprising, since both lead actors got their starts on television sitcoms. But it could have been truly hilarious - it just made me laugh. I also wondered what the real Mike is doing with pictures all over his apartment of himself. And I'm not the only person to wonder this - Roger Ebert asked the same question.

I will not discredit Martin Lawrence and Will Smith - the two have chemistry. Unfortunately, they also need a good script that can provide their characters with good interaction and funny moments. There aren't many here. We are supposed to trust their life-long friendship yet they don't display any signs of connection like Gibson and Glover did in the "Lethal" movies. Their chemistry alone lifted the last two in the series from being just decent movies.

"Bad Boys" is a movie that has a few funny moments, but none of them are hysterical. We are basically treated to long action sequences that have been done for twenty years, excessive language to guarantee an R-rating and make the movie look tougher, and bad dialogue. The only thing this movie is missing is graphic sexuality - something I heard the new - and supposedly horrible - sequel sports plenty of.

Even the biggest of action buffs won't find anything here. I love the cop-buddy genre, but it's getting to be a real bore. Ever since "Lethal Weapon," "48 Hrs." and "Beverly Hills Cop" came out it's all been retreads of the same old material. Of course, if you like cop-buddy films very much, you may like this film. Especially if you haven't seen very many.
Movie Guru Rating
Below Average.  Mediocre. Has substantial flaws, but is watchable. Below Average.  Mediocre. Has substantial flaws, but is watchable. Below Average.  Mediocre. Has substantial flaws, but is watchable.
  2.5 out of 5 stars

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