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Life

Rated [R]
Starring Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence
Screenplay by Robert Ramsey and Matthew Stone
Directed by Ted Demme
website: http://www.lifemovie.com

The only problem Cranky has with Life is found in its advertising campaign. You may walk in expecting a bust ass funny prison based romp - let's be honest, Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence have shown that they can find the comedy in most any situation - but instead you get a bittersweet tale of wrongly convicted lifers in a Mississippi prison farm. Walk in expecting The Nutty Professor, and you'll be disappointed (there's only one fart joke, and it doesn't emanate from either of the stars). Think drama with comedy, a la 48 Hours, and you'll be closer to the mark. Which is exactly the way director Ted Demme wanted it.

Waitasec. Let's call it a "serious comedy." That way you don't have to make any kind of comparison to anything that came before. Which is just the way Cranky likes it.

Beginning in 1932, with the celebration of a new job in a big New York bank, Life is the story of Claude Banks (Martin Lawrence) whose run in with small change Ray Gibson (Eddie Murphy) leaves him wallet-less and in debt to gangster styled nightclub boss named Spanky (Rick James). To settle up, Ray and Claude make a run to Mississippi to bootleg hootch. An encounter with a local card shark (Clarence Williams III) leads to a frame-up by a racist sheriff (Deep South in the 1930s -- you get the picture) and a life sentence for murder.

Renumbered Inmates 4316 and 4317, Claude and Ray don't particularly like each other, which gives 'em lots of time to work on relationship problems as they get whacked by one raw deal after another over the sixty years of story time. Comedy is delivered hand in hand with pathos, and makeup effects whiz Rick Baker ages the gents perfectly, as he did with Murphy in The Nutty Professor.

The supporting cast fills every stereotype of the prison genre that you can imagine - racist sheriff (Nick Cassavetes), gay inmate (Miguel A. Nuñez), fat and threatening inmate (Michael "Bear" Taliferro) - but the subplots don't play out the way the stereotype mold would have 'em. The best gag out of this bunch is spilled in the television commercial. The most blatant stereotype, that of the gay inmate, is resolved dramatically in a way that hushed a packed house that had been laughing heartily.

Serious comedy. A good description. On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Life, he would have paid...

$5.00

Life is no lightweight date flick, though I've put it at the date flick level. It's funny and it's dramatic and, all in all, it is not a waste of your time.

also starring Eddie Murphy    
The Nutty Professor vhs dvd
Metro vhs dvd
Mulan vhs dvd
Dr. Dolittle vhs dvd
Holy Man vhs dvd
48 Hours vhs dvd
Beverly Hills Cop trilogy vhs  
Coming To America vhs dvd
Trading Places vhs dvd

The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2016   by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.