Movie Reviews: Life




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     Universal (1 hr. 48 mins.)
     A small-time street hustler in 1930s New York City and a naïve bank teller are forced to make a deal with a ruthless gangster to deliver a truck load of good 'ole Mississippi bootlegged whiskey to pay off their gambling debts. The pair end up being framed for murder by a crooked sheriff and are sentence to do hard-time on a Mississippi chain gang.
     Eddie Murphy, Martin Lawrence, Obba Babatunde, Ned Beatty
Bottom Line:


      In the tradition of Cool Hand Luke ('67), a much more serious film, Murphy and Lawrence are surrounded by an array of colorful characters: Biscuit, Jangle Leg, Can't Get Right and Hoppin' Bob in Life an uneven and sometimes predictable comedy by award-winning producer Brian Grazer (Edtv), that follows Murphy and Lawrence through 60 years on a Mississippi chain gang underlining their hi-jinx and foiled escape attempts.
     Although Life focuses on the humor bonding Murphy and Lawrence's characters together in prison, there are serious moments in the film, such as an institutionalized inmate who'd rather commit "suicide-by-cop" than face being released from prison and brutal beatings prisoners receive from guards.
     Murphy and Lawrence have great on-screen chemistry and complement each other's performance, however, Life's strongest moments are during the 1930s when Murphy and Lawrence first arrive in prison. The third act is a montage of decades ending up in the 1980s with Murphy and Lawrence growing older as the years progress. Impressive make-up/special-effects has become a signature of Eddie Murphy films. We've seen how cleverly Murphy utilized stunning make-up in Coming To America ('88), The Nutty Professor ('96) and Life is no exception -- it's a great shtick, but it's time for something fresh.



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