Comic Talent Not The Storyline Rescues ‘Bad Boys’


In movie math, two funny people do not always add up to twice the fun. But, in “Bad Boys,” Will Smith plus Martin Lawrence add up to a comedy duo who can do no wrong.

Smith and Lawrence carry Smith and Wessons as a pair of Miami cops shielding a witness (Tea Leoni) from the bad guys trying to rub her out. From the opening scene, these two Miamigos establish a loose, wisecracking rhythm that preps you for a good time.

Lawrence’s character is an extension of the sweet, foul-mouthed persona he projected in last year’s stand-up movie, “You So Crazy.” An awkward smoothie, he tries to be cool but he isn’t, and the space between cool and uncool is where his humor lives.

Smith is cool. A single guy (Lawrence is married), he has the well-funded lifestyle that Lawrence covets and Smith never lets him forget it (both men sport goatee/ mustaches that make them look like finalists in a dirt-eating contest - you imagine Smith had his first and Lawrence copied it). Smith is tough enough to pull off the action elements of “Bad Boys,” but he can also make nearly any line funny (listen for “Back up, put the gun down and get me a package of Tropical Fruit Bubblicious”).

The two actors work together so well that “Bad Boys” has “sequel” written all over it. Maybe next time out, they’ll get a story. “Bad Boys”’ hide-the-girl-until-she-can-testify plot was shop-worn the first time they used it on “Starsky and Hutch,” but director Michael Bay pretends it’s brand new. It’s not and, after we get used to the stunning Miami locations, “Bad Boys” bogs down in routine car chases and shootouts.

Leoni’s character is under written, too. Like all beautiful crime victims, she lives in a fabulous loft apartment decorated with museum-quality artwork, and she wears skirts that barely keep her privates private. Sandpaper-voiced Leoni, who looks like a roughed-up Annette Bening, seems capable of going beyond the bimbo trappings, but “Bad Boys” never gives her a chance.

In general, the women of “Bad Boys” don’t come off well (if you’re keeping score, they include a bimbo, a hooker, a nag and an emasculating boss lady), but bad boys Smith and Lawrence more than make up for it.

Especially if you know that this movie was originally going to star dead weights Dana Carvey and Jon Lovitz in their roles - a tidbit which makes Smith and Lawrence’s work look less like clever acting and more like a public service.

xxxx “Bad Boys” Location: East Sprague, Newport and Coeur d’Alene cinemas Credits: Directed by Michael Bay, starring Will Smith, Martin Lawrence Running time: 2:06 Rating: R

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