Life (1999)

This week's walk-out is a period prison comedy starring Eddie Mur-
phy and Martin Lawrence as an odd couple of New Yorkers wrongfully 
accused of (and subsequently imprisoned for) murder in Prohibition-
era Mississippi.  (Don't ask how they get there-- it's a painfully 
convoluted process that takes thirty minutes of screen time, the 
sole highlight of which is a walk-through by "Mod Squad" survivor 
Clarence Thomas III as a crooked gambler.)  All the usual chain-
gang cliches are here, as is the expectedly intrusive amount of pop 
music (gotta sell those CDs!), and a jarring amount of contemporary 
sounding profanity.  (F*** this, n***** that, yada yada yada.)  On 
the upside, the black ensemble cast is exceptionally appealing and 
helps the (many) slower scenes schlep by.  At the hour mark, the 
story shifts twelve months forward, to the days during WWII.  The 
boys are still in prison-- they'll die there, the film's framing 
device tells us-- and the newest con is a young mute man who (a.) 
can play baseball like nobody's business and (b.) has seemingly 
caught the eye of the warden's buxom daughter.  At this point in 
the Narrative of No Surprises, my eyes began to roll uncontrollably 
and I opted to leave.  Make-up wizard Rick Baker is credited in the 
credits, so I presume that the story follows Murphy and Lawrence's 
characters into old age.  You tell me how it turned out and if the 
second hour had as few laughs as the first.  Oh, and since this a 
Universal release, at least the trailers'll be good:  the "R"-rated 
reel for AMERICAN PIE is a stitch and there's a new, even *more* 
FX-intensive preview for THE MUMMY in theaters.  I wonder how bad 
that one's gonna suck...  (Rated "R"/121 min.)

Grade:  W/O
Copyright 1999 Michael J. Legeros
Movie Hell is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros       

Originally posted to triangle.movies as MOVIE HELL: April 18, 1999

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