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Friday, March 18, 2011

Bad Boys

Title: Bad Boys

Year of Release: 1995

Date Viewed: February 4th, 2011

MPAA Rating: R

Time now to review another police story. This one is much less serious and virtually devoid of social commentary. Michael Bay's directing credit already gives that away.

Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) and Mike Lowery (Will Smith) are partnered detectives for the Miami Police Department. When a substantial amount of heroin is stolen from police headquarters, the two cops are assigned to track down the thieves and return the loot before the Internal Affairs Division gets involved in the case. If that happens, everyones jobs could be at risk.

Mike, the more charming of the pair, utilizes one of his human connections to track down any activities that involve large money transactions. His informant is a hooker named Maxine Logan (Karen Alexander). She stumbles upon a meeting between an infamous drug dealer and a former police officer. But before any information could be relayed to Lowery, Maxine is murdered. The event is witnessed by Julie Mott (Tea Leoni), Maxine's naive best friend who suddenly finds herself on the run with the mobsters on her trail. Julie knows about Mike but has no idea what he looks like. So she contacts police headquarters specifically requesting Mike, for she trusts no one else.

Mike is not readily available at the time of the call, so the socially awkward Marcus assumes his identity in order to get speedy cooperation from the frightened Julie. The policemen's inconveniently different personalities and off-the-clock lives make this ruse very challenging, but not nearly as hard as bringing the guilty party to justice.

Buddy-cop films are generally by the numbers. This one is especially formulaic because Michael Bay and producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer enjoy making the same type of movies (and including non-subtle product placement). Nothing is really wrong with that, except those already familiar with the formula can predict the change in tone before each new act arrives. The plot is no laughing matter, but the characters are there to provide humor through their moments of incompetence. It works sometimes.

Not much is done in the way of character development. The hero cops are not treated much differently than their counterparts but seem to get away with wearing informal attire while on duty. Maybe the name Bad Boys comes from their reputation of ignoring the dress code?

Martin Lawrence does his usual shtick except during scenes when he's allowed to kick some butt. It's a little strange to see him overact his way to a laugh and then subdue criminals like a smart enforcer ten minutes later. Although I have a lot of respect for Will Smith with how he has managed his career in the long run, his acting is very green here. It was often hard to differentiate Mike Lowery from Smith's Fresh Prince character, so much that I was half-expecting a crossover that would have revealed them to be separated brothers. New episodes of Fresh Prince of Bel Air were still being produced at the time of this movie's release, so Smith's versatility wouldn't get to be recognized by the public eye until several years later. Tea Leoni does well with her job of playing the damsel in distress without annoyance.

The gags revolving around the cops covering their true identities are funny at first but wear thin before they run the course. What keeps Bad Boys watchable are the wisely placed chase and shootout sequences, complimented perfectly by Mark Mancina's pulse-pounding music score. As typical with Michael Bay, what he lacks in character development is usually made up for with fun popcorn entertainment. I didn't notice any continuity errors during these sequences probably because I was having a good time watching them.

Bad Boys interested me enough to plan for a time to watch the sequel and see if anything evolves. For now, it passes as good weekend entertainment.

Rating: 6

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