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For some reason I thought Jerry Bruckheimer was involved in this, but this is by far too modest a picture in length and scope in comparison to Martin Lawrence's other 2003 project, Bad Boys II.  In its favor, at least it's short.  We don't all have the kind of time it takes to sit down and actually watch the whole of epics like Bad Boys II.  As for those of you looking to this picture for some kind of 9/11 closure, you probably won't find it and would do best to stay away completely, as it has very little to do with anything directly involving matters of national security.  Also, it's billed as a comedy.

Oh, how the recycling from other movies abounds!  As we stated from the outset, this is plotted much like Armed and Dangerous: a cop stumbles onto corruption, falls from grace and loses his badge about the same time, and ends up taking a job as a security guard while on the path to redemption.(1)  This time they ramp up the drama portion of the script where the cop's partner actually dies in the line of duty.  In Martin Lawrence's intro sequence, I couldn't help but think of Men In Black when it came to the proverbial Shooting of the Cardboard Lineup sequence.  Here, it's more in tune with Lawrence's brand of comedy.  I kinda liked it, but then I haven't been exposed to the majority of Lawrence's work, and I probably won't rush out when "Martin: The Entire Series" comes out on DVD, with the easter eggs and the commentary by Tisha Campbell and all of that...

Another recycled scene: in a rehash of the scene from See No Evil, Hear No Evil, the boys drive a van onto a floating garbage barge.  Here, however, it's done from off a tall bridge (2), which just might leave viewers questioning whether or not someone would actually survive such a fall, even if it were onto a soft, pillowy barge of garbage.  Okay, so this movie relies a little too heavily on those Angels that Protect the Heroes.  There's also an homage to the fact that the doors on the back of a semi truck trailer swing open.  How the rig driver doesn't notice it is beyond me.  Also there's even an homage to Rear Window but it goes by very very fast.  Rear Window itself builds suspense much better, actually.

Given the nature of the material, and the apparent smallness of the film's budget, can you even doubt that these two are going to be involved in a manic car chase through a junkyard?  As a part-time aficionado of such things I was semi-impressed.  Well, they cheated with some CGI antics if I remember correctly.  For similar car-related antics, see also Short Time, and Freebie and the Bean for a wonderful statement about traffic jams involving James Caan on a motorcycle.  And, if you don't find it priceless when they commandeer a Student Driver vehicle with two steering wheels ... ah, skip it.

Zahn's character, rather than protect his girlfriend from the trouble he's in, finds himself turning to her in his time of peril and using her crib as kind of a home base.  She serves about the same function as Meg Ryan did in Armed and Dangerous, but where Meg didn't inspire any discussion of race relations in that movie, the girlfriend here does, as she is black and Steve Zahn is white.  Martin Lawrence makes it about as clear as anyone can: (his character) is against inter-racial relations if the man is white.  If you're still with the picture after that, well, I don't know whether you should be lauded or chided, but you may be a glutton for punishment as the new old saying goes.

Why, I haven't even got to the other race-based episode!  Steve Zahn's character, named Hank Rafferty and not Laurence Powell, goes back out on the beat right after losing his partner and immediately gets into a scuffle with a seemingly hydrated Martin Lawrence which leads to an homage to the Rodney King tape, which eventually leads to an all black jury sentencing Zahn to six months in prison.  (SPOILERS)  True, a cop shouldn't swat at a bee with a baton, but if I were a black man on that jury I would probably think twice about the sleight-of-car on the video tape.

The Inside Scoop comes in the form of super-secret beer kegs made of space-age materials that are worth, as Ned Ryerson says, "Millions!"  This must be the bit about national security.  No discussion is followed up on as to how the space-age alloys would improve the transport or taste of beer.  What is this, Strange Brew?

The Big Finale: Remember now, this is coming from the director of Big Daddy, mind you.  The Big Finale starts at one of those foolproof locations that are perfect for the big final trade-off, and ends up involving a giant non-Ness crane which the bad guy gets hit with and the good guy (Lawrence) gets saved with.  CGI-imposed fireballs and strategically-placed stuntman mats abound.  Hard to say if Bill Duke is having fun in this movie.  Probably not as fun as Commando or Predator, but those are pretty hard to top as it is.  He definitely doesn't look as depressed as he did in Payback, for one.  One of my personal favorites was his turn in The Limey.  Check it out!

Director motifs: Believe it or not, Dugan manages to sneak in one!  At the end of 1997's Beverly Hills Ninja, Robin Shou flies into the ocean, some might say rather awkwardly.  What is this, The Matrix?  Anyway, he wasn't the bad guy of that picture, but the bad guy in this picture flies into the ocean in a similar way.  They at least learned to make it look a little more real this time, and to their credit they didn't have the bad guy rise up out of the ocean to try and fire that one last shot; a lesser director like Adrian Lyne would've pulled that one.

Anyway, I think I've invested entirely far too much time on this one.  But let me end by saying that Zahn holds his own as well as he can.  Vintage Zahn is when he says things like "Do you mind?  I'm trying to have a discussion here..."


-so sayeth the Movie Hooligan


1: Topic for discussion: Is Steve Zahn more like the John Candy character or more like the Eugene Levy character?  And is the Martin Lawrence character like either?  I'll get you started: Zahn's character ends up losing his cop job like Candy's character, but he ends up playing the straight man like Eugene Levy.

2: Steve Zahn's character actually refers to the bridge by name later on in reference to the epic drive from off it onto the garbage barge.  My latent cliché detector went off; this doesn't usually happen in the movies!

(c)2004 Bulk Entertainment

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