Combustible Celluloid
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With: Martin Lawrence, Will Smith, Tea Leoni, Tcheky Karyo, Theresa Randle, Joe Pantoliano, Emmanuel Xuereb, Marc Macaulay, Marg Helgenberger, Nestor Serrano, Julio Oscar Mechoso, Michael Imperioli, Kevin Corrigan, John Spider Salley
Written by: Michael Barrie, Jim Mulholland, Doug Richardson, based on a story by George Gallo
Directed by: Michael Bay
MPAA Rating: R for intense violent action and pervasive strong language
Running Time: 118
Date: 04/07/1995

Bad Boys (1995)

2 Stars (out of 4)

What're Ya Gonna Do?

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Making his directorial debut after a career in music videos, Michael Bay knows how to deliver a slick, good-looking film, colorful and filled with action. The film is also notable for its unique pairing of two African-American cops. But it also appeals to the lowest common denominator, and wallows in excessive violence and language, female stereotypes, drugs, product placement, and brain-dead sitcom humor. Bay's motto seems to be "bigger and louder."

In Miami, a gang of criminals successfully steals a huge supply of heroin from the police. It's up to narcotics cops Mike Lowery (Will Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) to find the drugs to save their jobs. A prostitute friend of Mike's responds to a call from one of the careless criminals, and brings her friend Julie (Tea Leoni). The bad guys murder the prostitute, but Julie witnesses it and gets away. Due to a mix-up, Marcus must pretend to be Mike to keep Julie happy, and so Mike and Marcus must pretend to be each other, protect Julie, find the bad guys and the drugs, and avenge their friend, all the while trying not to blow up half of Miami.

Lowbrow Lawrence plays to his usual audience, but Smith hadn't yet found his sparkling star persona and comes across as a little arrogant here. Worse is the script concept that requires the two characters to pretend to "be" each other for the benefit of their murder witness. This leads to an excruciating series of fumbling, embarrassing jokes. Overall, the characters are not strong enough to provide any real emotional impact, and the violence and thrills are subsequently numbing.

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