When Ray (Eddie Murphy) and Claude (Martin Lawrence) happen upon a dead body at precisely the same moment some rednecks are passing by on the way back from their ovine "dates," this improbability naturally results in Ray and Claude being thrown in prison. If you really want to understand the very essence of contrivance, however, just wait until the end of this film.
The sheriff responsible for getting our two heroes life sentences reappears after Ray and Claude have spent 60 or so years in the slammer, and Ray recognizes him because he's wearing Ray's father's watch. The film requires the guy to get what's coming to him. Neither Ray nor Claude can give it, because they're nice guys, so in true Hollywood form, a situation must be extracted from someone's ass wherein killing a guy is kosher. The whole episode is so concocted I would have been less insulted if director Ted Demme had walked around from behind the camera, stuck a stick of dynamite in the sheriff's mouth, and filmed the guy's head exploding in slow motion.
If Ted is anything like his films, he's one of these pudgy thirtysomethings who's probably about one Big Mac away from flopping around his bathroom floor, screaming for medical attention. The second act of most movies is supposed to be compelling in some way, but "Life" is just boring -- or soft in the middle, as it were. Usually, heroes confront a smorgasbord of exciting obstacles. In "Life," Ray and Claude get tossed in jail to rot for six decades, and we get to watch.
If you're wondering why this movie seems a lot like "Harlem Nights Goes to Jail," it's because somebody was apparently desperate to unload a couple of tons of the leftover makeup, and the only way to show Murphy and Lawrence at 90 was to have them enter jail in 1932. This means we're supposed to believe both of these geezers are in their early 20's at the outset. Hey, if I could miraculously recover the two hours of my life lost to watching this film, I'd will myself to believe just about anything.
To spread the word about this Life review on Twitter.To get instant updates of Mr. Cranky reviews, subscribe to our RSS feed.