Bad Boys

Bad Boys, co-starring Martin Lawrence and Will Smith as Miami cops kicking ass and cracking dick jokes while trying to figure out who stole $100 million in heroin from the police evidence room, is likely to make the deepest dent in the box office. You can picture super slick producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer (Beverly Hills Cop, Top Gun) behind the camera hollering, "Work that formula, baby." Aside from changing the sun-and-sin locale from Beverly Hills, Calif., to Miami — call it Miami Vice Cop — the producers don't even try to hide the rip-off. If Beverly Hills Cop hit pay dirt with Eddie Murphy, imagine the impact with two young and gifted black stars.

What Saturday Night Live did for Murphy, sitcoms have done for Smith (The Fresh Prince of Bel Air) and Lawrence (Martin). These guys are primed to explode. And they do, though the script doesn't do them any favors. It's a familiar mix of jolts (co-writer Doug Richardson worked on Die Hard 2) and jokes (cowriters Jim Mulholland and Michael Barrie toiled for David Letterman and The Tonight Show). But the bad boys achieve something a budget can't buy: an easy, natural rapport that makes you root for them. For comedy and thrills, Lawrence and Smith are a dream team.

Lawrence plays Marcus Burnett, a detective who has a wife (Theresa Randle) and a family and a hard time getting laid. "It'll make me light on my feet," he tells his wife, pleading without success for an early morning quickie. His partner, Mike Lowrey (Smith), is a bachelor with an independent income, sharp threads and an apartment besieged by fuck bunnies. The plot twist comes when the two detectives switch roles to fool material witness Julie Mott, played by the sexy, smart and very funny Téa Leoni. Julie thinks Mike is married and that Marcus is the playboy. For a while she even thinks the two boys are lovers. Don't ask for explanations. Coherence is not the film's strong suit. Director Michael Bay — the 30-year-old wiz behind commercials and music videos in his feature debut — is out for hip, high-style fun. The climactic shootout inside an airplane hangar, complete with a 727 blowing sky high, slides the film into overdrive. It's all special-effects noise and nonsense. We're not fooled. Lawrence and Smith are the real firecrackers.

From The Archives Issue 314: April 3, 1980
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