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movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Life

Starring: Eddie Murphy, Martin Lawrence
Director: Ted Demme
Rated: R
RunTime: 109 Minutes
Release Date: April 1999
Genres: Comedy, Drama

*Also starring: Lisa Nicole Carson, Nick Cassavetes, Obba Babatunde

Review by Susan Granger
2½ stars out of 4

In this comedy/drama, Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence play two men who are wrongly convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment at Mississippi State Prison, known as Parchman Farm. Over the course of 60 years, they endure hardship and appreciate kindness, suffer cruelty and learn forgiveness and, of course, fantasize. One of the best sequences has them in a Harlem nightclub. Throughout their ordeal, they sharpen their sassy, vulgar sense of humor as their friendship deepens, and they never lose hope that one day, somehow, they will walk outside the prison walls as free men. Apparently, the concept originated with Murphy, who got screenwriters Robert Ramsey and Matthew Stone to develop the script. Unfortunately, as often happens with Eddie Murphy movies, the writing never lives up to his abilities as a talented, edgy actor/comedian. Directed by Ted Demme ("Beautiful Girls"), Murphy and Lawrence do deliver as an "Odd Couple." They worked together once before, back in 1992, in "Boomerang." The weakness lies in the slick, tolerant, country-club atmosphere of the penitentiary, complete with baseball, booze, and babes - and the constant, complaining banter, which serves to emphasize the episodic nature of the plot and the lack of character development. Co-starring are Obba Babatunde (who serves as the story-teller), Ned Beatty, Clarence Williams III, Miguel A. Nunez, Bokeem Woodbine, and Nick Cassavetes (as the warden). And Rick Baker's "aging" makeup is noteworthy. On the GrangerMovie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Life" is an unfocused, superficial 6 but it does offer two solid, persuasive performances.

Copyright 1999 Susan Granger

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