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Bad Boys (1995)

June 25th, 2007 · 5 Comments

In the 5th season of South Park, Kyle exclaims, “Job has all his children killed, and Michael Bay gets to keep making movies. There isn’t a God.” In the first of six articles, I determine the existence of God by revisiting the films of director and alleged anti-Christ Michael Bay.

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Narcotics detectives Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) and Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) race around Miami in a Porsche 911. They spend so much time bickering about Marcus’ French fries that they almost fall victim to a pair of not-too-bright carjackers. That night, high tech thieves – led by a European Bad Guy (Tchéky Karyo) – break into the police impound and steal $100 million of heroin.

Marcus is a family man with a wife (Theresa Randle) and three kids, while his partner Mike is a rich kid with a trust fund and self-contained bachelor’s residence. They’re yelled at by their captain (Joe Pantoliano) and given 72 hours to find the dope, or else a captain with Internal Affairs (Marg Helgenberger) will have all their badges, or something.

A prostitute informant of Mike’s is killed working a tip for him, which her hot roommate (Tea Leoni) witnesses. She refuses to trust anyone except Mike, but he’s not available, so their captain sends Marcus to deal with her. The married man is forced to assume the identity of his bachelor friend, and vice versa, until they can bust the bad guys.

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Screenwriter George Gallo sold a spec script called Bulletproof Hearts to producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer. The premise was that two cops – a married man and his bachelor partner – would switch places to protect a witness integral to their pursuit of stolen dope. Eddie Murphy had become a superstar on “Saturday Night Live,” and the two most promising stars on the show in 1986 were Dana Carvey and Jon Lovitz.

Carvey became attached to play the bachelor cop, Lovitz the married one. Carvey dropped out, and several years later, the producers considered going with Arsenio Hall and Martin Lawrence in the roles. The script to what was now called Bad Boys had been rewritten by Michael Barrie & Jim Mulholland, and Doug Richardson, and in the view of director Michael Bay, was “bad”. Unfortunately, he was in no position to pick and choose.

Bay was a director of catchy music videos (The Divinyls’ “I Touch Myself”) and commercials (“Got Milk?”). He had expressed interest in directing Speed, as well as Drop Zone, but had no feature film experience. On Bad Boys, Bay sold Simpson/Bruckheimer on his youth and familiarity with their target demographic, and got the job. He suggested TV star Will Smith to star opposite Lawrence, and had about $9 million to make the picture.

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The best thing I can say about Bad Boys is that it lacks scope or ambition. There’s a gritty, fly by night energy that comes from watching Martin Lawrence & Will Smith make up a lot of their lines as they go along. They’re not exactly funny, but the pair has good chemistry, while the producers also lucked out casting Tea Leoni, who has a lot more aplomb than the part of The Girl called for.

If a good script ever existed for this movie, Bay sure as hell didn’t shoot it. Bad Boys is committed to dumb. This is the George W. Bush of action movies. The Al Gore version might have explored the sophisticated conceit of two cops switching identities, a Tale of Two Cities set in the Miami drug wars. Bay just wants shit to look good, like a huge MIAMI sign situated on a runway, no matter how patently stupid such a thing would be.

What’s also laughable is how bad every character is at what they do. The detectives do zero detecting. The bad guys can’t kill a witness, or locate her, or kill her once they locate her. The Girl decides to hide out by going to a dance club where she knows the bad guys are. The IA inspector doesn’t even seem to understand basic police procedure or chain of command. Everyone acts like this is their first day on the fucking job. Much like the movie.

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Conclusion: A sleeper hit, Bad Boys was nowhere near as successful – or as awful – as Rush Hour would be. Yet God has a lot to answer for here as Bay emerges as an A-list action director.

DVD Verdict calls Bad Boys “an often funny, high action picture without any pretense of originality or plot cohesion. I still liked it.”

Michael Brody at Cinema Blend says Bad Boys “is highly entertaining but ridiculously forgettable. How I managed to conjure up this much text based on a movie I can barely remember is beyond me.”

View the climactic duel between a 1995 Porsche 911 and a 1967 Shelby Cobra.

Tags: Heist · Interrogation · Prostitute · Shootout · Woman in jeopardy

5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Burbanked // Jun 25, 2007 at 5:19 am

    If your articles will truly prove or disprove the existence of God based on Michael Bay movies, I weep for mankind. And probably the universe.

    Great piece – I’m excited to read the rest!

    I don’t think WordPress registers these kinds of trackback links, so I’ll let you know that I’ve featured your post today at the top of my sidebar (in the “From the brains of the bloggers” box). This is a bit in which I choose a particularly good sentence and link it – wildly removed from its context – back to your post.

  • 2 Damian // Jun 25, 2007 at 5:01 pm

    You know, it’s interesting because I happen to be a Christian and I have long believed in God… but it’s true that Michael Bay’s career is enough to shake the faith of even the most devout theist. Now he’s even got my beloved Steven Spielberg involved in his latest debacle (“Transformers”). Dear God, I know you’re up there. Help us out just a little bit, will ya? Please?

  • 3 Joe Valdez // Jun 26, 2007 at 10:52 pm

    Alan: Thanks for giving me a nod on your site this week, and for associating me with the words “brains” and “bloggers”. As for quoting me out of context, I don’t think it could be any more blunt than some of my assessments on Mr. Bay.

    Damian: I’m agnostic, but this week has gotten me in touch with my spiritual side. The only way I’m making it through Pearl Harbor is to believe in a light at the end of the tunnel.

  • 4 lebohang // Oct 20, 2008 at 3:46 pm

    i love bad boys its my favourite movie ever.

  • 5 Maryellen Reigleman // Feb 12, 2011 at 11:04 am

    this internet site is my inhalation , rattling excellent design and perfect subject material .

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