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‘Bad Boys’

By Rita Kempley
Washington Post Staff Writer
April 07, 1995


Michael Bay
Martin Lawrence;
Will Smith;
Tea Leoni;
Tcheky Karyo;
Karen Alexander;
Theresa Randle
violence, profanity and nudity

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"Bad Boys" is relentless formulaic fodder for the explosion-starved; it's loud, shallow, sexist and a complete waste of time. But this buddy cop thriller is not without its problems.

Basically, it's already a sequel. The irreverent heroes—Marcus (comedian Martin Lawrence) and Mike (Will Smith)—have been partners for years and best friends since they were kids. They don't have to get to know each other's strengths, overcome their differences or learn to trust each other. This means the film's highly paid quartet of writers had to stick some other sort of story between all the expletives.

Where others might have seen a daunting task, these pen-pushers found an opportunity to pay homage to "Lethal Weapon II." They give the buddies a sidekick, Julie (Tea Leoni); alas, the listless Leoni delivers her lines much as a disgruntled postal worker dispenses mail. No zip in her code.

Julie witnesses the murder of a high-priced hooker, Max (Karen Alexander), a close friend of Mike, who is a smooth ladies man. She offers to help the cops solve the crime, but only if she deals directly with Mike. Alas, Mike is off duty, and goofy family man Marcus must impersonate his friend.

The ruse helps complicate the otherwise routine plot, but it doesn't do a thing to increase the buddies' understanding of each other's lives. Mostly, the henpecked, sexually deprived Marcus worries that he is being cuckolded by his handsome best friend. Mike, who is independently wealthy and doesn't really need to be a cop, worries about the pricey stuff in his apartment, where Julie and her poodles are in protective custody.

Domestics quickly give way to ballistics as the partners set off in pursuit of a villainous Frenchman and his trigger-happy henchmen. One of them shot Max, but more importantly, the gang stole $100 million worth of heroin from the police department. It was the evidence in the partners' biggest-ever bust.

There are shootouts and chase scenes set against the palmy scenery of Miami, where the vice is perpetrated. None is memorable for its inventiveness, but the mayhem is discharged with professionalism by first-time director Michael Bay of music video and Miller Beer commercial fame. (There's not a whole lot of difference between a beer advert and an action movie: Both are aimed at guys and feature plenty of scantily clad babes.)

As usual in this genre, the women's roles all stink; females are on board principally to prevent the fellows from having fun.

Despite everything, "Bad Boys" can be great fun when the bantering buddies are in hot pursuit of the bad guys. Lawrence and Smith click, so get ready for the next sequel. Hey, whatcha gonna do?

Bad Boys is rated R for violence, profanity and nudity.

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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