Bad Boys

All star movie guide rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Former video director Michael Bay had his first big hit with this action comedy, which also returned producers Jerry Bruckheimer and Don Simpson to the big-budget, high-violence movies that they successfully churned out in the Eighties. Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) are two Miami cops who watch as $100 million in heroin, from the biggest drug bust of their careers, is stolen out of the basement of police headquarters. This puts them hot on the trail of French drug lord Fouchet (Tcheky Karyo), who leaves a trail of bodies in his wake and only one witness, Julie Mott (Tea Leoni), who quickly teams up with our heroes. Comic hijinks ensue when plot complications force Mike to impersonate the married Marcus, to the point of moving in with his wife and children, while Marcus takes over Mike's bachelor pad and lifestyle. Car chases, snappy one-liners, and nonstop pacing fuel this umpteenth variation on the cop "buddy" formula. -- Don Kaye, All Movie Guide

Blockbuster star Will Smith and comedian Martin Lawrence shoot rapid-fire lines and bullets in this cop caper directed by action director Michael Bay. Mike Lowry (Smith) is a smooth-talking ladies man and Marcus Burnett (Lawrence) is happily married to his job as well as his wife. As partners in the narcotics division of the Miami police department, they have a reputation as two cops who don't play by the rules. When two pallets full of seized heroin are stolen from the police station, Mike and Marcus are put on the case. A girlfriend of Mike's gets caught in the crossfire and her roommate, Julie (Téa Leoni), becomes a material witness. She calls the police pleading only to talk to Mike. Mike isn't around so to convince her to cooperate, Marcus assumes Mike's identity, complicating matters as the trio take down the bad guys. There's plenty of pyrotechnics for the special-effects fans, complicated gun battle choreography, and a large-scale dance-club scene complete with exotic dancers--a device that's becoming some what of a recurring charter in films directed by Bay. Lawrence and Smith (who had yet been elevated to multimillion dollar box-office status) deliver with comedic, foul-mouthed finesse. Téa Leoni gives a strong performance as Julie, and Bad Boys also has good supporting roles from Theresa Randle (Spawn, The Big Hit) as Marcus's neglected wife and Tchéky Karyo (Addicted to Love) as the mastermind behind the heist. --Shannon Gee

You always know what you're going to get with a film produced by Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer (who went solo when Simpson's voracious appetites finally got the better of him and he died of a drug overdose in 1996). Their movies, which include Top Gun, Beverly Hills Cop, and The Rock, are bigger than life, featuring huge explosions, manic car chases, bloody shoot-outs, catchy pop music scores, top stars, and slick direction (usually by veterans of TV commercials). But as loud, brash, and polished as their movies are, they are ultimately empty at the core. Bad Boys is a typical, if not terribly inspired, take on this formula, directed by former commercial director Michael Bay (Armageddon, The Rock), who also directed videos for Tina Turner and Lionel Richie. Starring Will Smith (Independence Day, Men in Black) and Martin Lawrence (Blue Streak, Life) as two cops who are perpetually in trouble with the brass for the high body counts they leave behind, Bad Boys plays like a remake of Beverly Hills Cop or Lethal Weapon crossed with The Odd Couple. Smith plays Mike Lowrey, a slick, single womanizer, who gets bent out of shape if anyone spills something in his nice car or nice apartment. Lawrence is Marcus Burnett, who is married and tends to spill things a lot.

Of course, car chases, shoot-outs, and explosions cause a lot of spillage, so you can be sure this is going to make Lowrey very upset. And, indeed, Lowrey and Burnett spend an inordinate amount of time bickering, but unfortunately their lines are not as funny as the ones Neil Simon wrote for Oscar and Felix in The Odd Couple. Throughout the film the action comes to an abrupt halt, while Lowrey and Burnett squabble ad nauseam when they should be saving somebody.

To make matters worse, they have to protect a witness, Julie Mott (Téa Leoni, who was much more entertaining in Flirting With Disaster), who thinks Burnett is Lowrey. They play along and switch places so that she won't run out on them. Burnett goes to live in Lowrey's apartment (Mott thinks they are gay lovers because Burnett has so many pictures of Lowrey at his place), and Lowrey hangs out with Burnett's wife and kids. Like just about everything that happens in this movie this ludicrous situation seems more like the manipulations of a screenwriter than real life. Of course, real life is the last thing you expect to see in a Simpson/Bruckheimer production anyway.

It's no surprise that the special features on the Special Edition DVD version of the film focus on the movie's special effects. You can watch things get shot or blown up from a variety of angles and there's a documentary with detailed explanations of how all the destruction was accomplished, aptly titled The Boom and Bang of Bad Boys. The DVD also includes audio commentary by director Bay, who has no illusions about this, his first film. "I had a bad script, let's face it," he admits. The DVD also includes videos by Diana King, Warren G and 69 Boyz. -- Al Weisel

My rating: 5 Stars