Life (I) (1999)
User ReviewsReview this title
The movie begins in modern times, 1997, with the main characters' funerals. The movie then flashes back to 1932 to begin telling their story, and continues as they age in prison in Mississippi.
They were "petty criminals" but were sentenced to life in prison for a murder they did not commit. However, being black in 1930s Mississippi did them no favors. The story that unfolds is irreverent and funny and has enough twists along the way to keep things very interesting.
I can't understand why the average rating of this movie is below "6". I give it "8" of "10" for its overall entertainment value, plus a few "life's little lessons" thrown in. I think it is one of Eddie Murphy's best movies.
With a story line as good as this one, it was up to Eddie to see how he could develop it. If this film had a flaw, I think this was it. I believe had Mr Murphy decided to look really deeply into the role of Rayford Gibson, it could have been a possible "Oscar" role for him.
There are no doubts regarding Eddie Murphy's acting ability, yet sometimes I think he sacrifices the script and his role for a cheap laugh when it's not really necessary. It is possible that he is caught up in his own 'identity creation' of "Eddie Murphy: Comedy first, drama...maybe not!"
That said, Eddie Murphy and his worthy partner, Martin Lawrence successfully produce a comedy worth watching. I just hope that Eddie Murphy continues in this same vein. Please no more films like Beverly Hills Flop 3 and Holy Man!
Finally, a general point, which needs to be addressed, is that it is so strange how comedy films with far more substance, fail to do well financially. Moreover, there are films which fall short in quality, that can generate $100M+ for substandard, regurgitated, "comedy". "Life" which is struggling to reach the $65M mark falls into the former category. "Austin Powers: The Spy who Shagged Me" and "Big Daddy" definitely fall in the latter. The mind boggles!
Anyway, for those who have not seen "Life", go and see, you won't regret watching it.
I was surprised at how good Murphy is in this flick.Not one of my favorites, he convinces as he ages and grows under the burden his character carries, that of an entire life stolen from him. And he survives with a certain dignity. Lawrence is almost as good, but he does labor a bit with the dramatic parts, seeming a bit uncomfortable shedding his comic bent. Note that when these characters are shown as old men, Murphy actually becomes an old man, Lawrence is still a young man in oldster's make-up.
Let's not overlook an interesting small role expertly understated by Ned Beatty, and the charm of Bokeem Woodbine as Can't Get Right. Life is well-mounted and the sets are as convincing as any I've seen. Comedies are rarely as dirty and sweaty as this movie.
I thoroughly enjoyed this picture, realizing early on that it was a very serious movie wrongly hyped as a comedy.
You leave the theater thinking `It was funny enough, why couldn't it just stay silly?' My friends, I'm with you on every page. It's a slippery slope to juggle the two genres.
`Life' is the millionth attempt at warm-hearted comedy. It tries to make you pee your pants with its jokes, and yet slap your emotions around with the drama. And damn the odds, it fits like a glove. `Life' is also a film that defies much criticism. You either love stars Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence, or you don't. I'm in the first category. As the main characters, the two comedians prove just how valuable they are. Murphy is coming off a uniquely horrific year. `Dr. Dolittle' was a smash, but a career setback to say the least. `Holy Man' was an unmitigated disaster, but one that didn't effect Murphy with any real damage. The greatest gift `Life' gives to Murphy is a chance to show off range. Murphy is a very talented actor, and this movie makes you wish he would try a straight drama for once. Murphy can be devastatingly funny. But he can also be very dramatically convincing. With each new movie, Murphy grows as an actor. I really think he's set for brighter things. Martin Lawrence shares many of the same attributes as Murphy. He's terribly funny, and yet able to win your heart with a depth most comedians don't have. `Life' has Lawrence with the quieter role. He uses that chance to provide the film with a backbone. He eventually comes out the best rounded character in the fractured storytelling. It's a good performance, but even better, it's a brilliant pairing with Eddie Murphy. The two are seamlessly funny. Squeezing every moment for comic and emotional juice. It's refreshing to watch a movie with two actors who seem to be trying something different, all the while living up to previous expectations. Ted Demme is a solid director, a thought that immediately puts me in the minority. His `Who's The Man?' was a strictly silly romp, but was actually funny. `The Ref' was the critically lauded and sharp black comedy. `Beautiful Girls' is a film that every time I sit down to watch, feels as comfortable as an old cardigan. He's yet to falter in my eyes. I like his attention to detail, and his gift for trusting his actors. `Life' wouldn't work as well as it does without a specific amount of direction and free will. Demme manages to keep the film on track without ever succumbing to an over-reliance on improv. The best scenes in `Life' are the quiet ones: the gay inmate who's release from prison provides a dilemma, the passage of time montage, and Lawrence's moment with the freshly baked pies(which is actually comical, but who's counting?). The film seems like it was longer at one point, but the film on display here really pleased me. I would recommend this film to anybody that has lost faith in Eddie Murphy.------------- 9
Many who submitted comments compared "Life" with "The Shawshank Redemption," but a more likely comparison is "Cool Hand Luke," which starred Paul Newman in a similar story also set in a Mississippi prison. The comic gags, such as the warden's curvaceous daughter, were taken from "Cool Hand Luke." Overall, the film is rich in meaning as it shows how life in general is an interweaving of comedy and tragedy. Another comparison story is "Death Comes for the Archbishop" by Willa Cather, in which Ms. Cather shows how two priests, also in a spartan situation (a desert pastorate in New Mexico) and without the usual trappings of success, make meaningful lives for themselves while living sacrificially for others.
One of the most funniest films I have seen.
I have seen this so many times and I don't understand why it has only scored a 6/10!
I always think that story lines that cover a large chunk of the characters' lives are always very interesting as the audience gets to see how they evolve and change with age. All of the characters pull this off - over the years we see Ray (Eddie Murphy) change from a young confident individual who never gives up hope to a tired old grouchy man who is hard of hearing; but its never sad. Even when the characters are riddled with old age the humour is still fantastic.
I approach this with a certain amount of caution. I expected a buddy comedy full of the heavy-handed comedy that usually comes with a Murphy or a Lawrence movie. Admittedly it does have a certain amount of that but in small amounts it can be quite funny. The story doesn't create as good a relationship between Ray and Claude as it could have done, and ignores any brutality that may occur, but it still manages to have poignant things to say about friendship.
The `old' makeup isn't as good it could have been but it passes. The story isn't anywhere near Shawshank but it tries to cover similar ground. Although it never reaches that level it is a lot more involving than you'd expect it to be. It may always come down to Murphy and Lawrence bickering but it isn't just that. My only criticism of it is that it appears to have been more fun to make than it is to watch the outtakes are the funniest bit in the whole thing.
Murphy and Lawrence are not the most subtle of performers but they do OK here. They do better at the comedy than the serious elements but both are warm enough to convince. The cast is made up of a range of reasonable black actors and comedians Bernie Mac is funny, but again this feeds into the image that the real fun was had in the making of the film rather than the actual film itself. Interesting side roles are given to Ned Beatty, R. Lee Ermey, Bokeem Woodbine, Rick James, Lisa Nicole Carson and Heavy D.
Overall this isn't just a buddy comedy and it isn't quite as meaningful as Shawshank. It falls in-between and, while it's not a classic it's still quite enjoyable to watch even if all the best bits are in the outtakes at the end.
The plot is about how the characters played by Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence met during the age of the prohibition in New York under difficult circumstances involving a mafia guy that forces them going to a business trip to get liqueur from the south, but in this trip they are going to have problems with the law and will be unfairly sentence to prison for life. We will be able to enjoy very funny moments in the years that they spend in prison trying to get out.
LIFE has one scene that is a tribute to the film "Cool hand Luke" that is really funny. this is my favorite Eddie Murphy's movie and one of his two funniest performances along with Beverly Hills Cup.
Overall the entire movie had no big flaws and was awesome all the way. Rating 10 out of 10.
It's the kind of film that cheers you up every time you watch it. The story is pretty tragic, on paper, but on screen it is a joy to watch.
Some of the lines of dialogue in the film have found their way into my everyday speech among friends. If someone asks to borrow something I may reply 'Oh hell no m***** F*****, you can't have my (whatever the item is) and that's for Damn sure!' Oh and the scene of Ray and Claude as old men playing cards with younger inmates in the prison infirmary has me crying with laughter every time.
When you hear that Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence are making a film together, you think that this could be the funniest movie ever made. Two talented comedians working side by side, how could it not be? Well, when the story line deals with two black men being put in prison for a crime they didn't commit by a white racist cop, it's hard for a movie to be truly funny. I think the writers were trying to make some sort of social commentary at the same time and while I commend them for that, it wastes the talents of the two stars. They were always shackled by the knowledge that they weren't supposed to be in prison, so there was always that feeling of hatred going on.
Now, that's not to say the movie wasn't funny. At times it was laugh out loud funny. Murphy especially was in fine form with a lot of ad-libs and Lawrence kept right up with him. I was afraid that with two stars such as these two that there might be a problem of egos and who should get more laughs, but they worked well together. And when they were allowed to just go off they made it very funny.
But again the story got in the way. There was a sub-plot of the prison director's daughter getting pregnant by one of the inmates. I didn't really see the point of that. They used the baby for a one minute gag and that was it. The story also seemed choppy. The movie starts in 1932 and ends 60 years later, so it wasn't like they could go start to finish, but it moved along very quickly at times. The makeup effects (by Rick Baker) were incredible. Murphy and Lawrence aged 60 years right before our very eyes.
Life was more of a heartwarming comedy than a straight out comedy. It made you laugh but it also got very serious (especially near the end when the cop who put them in prison came back). Ray and Claude went through a lot of hell that they didn't deserve but they persevered and made it through. When it was funny, it was very funny. But with the story line it was also very serious which I thought restrained the humor. So overall I'd go out and see Life to see how two top comedians work, but don't expect to be rolling in the aisles the entire time.
Eddie and Martin are the perfect comedy duo simpler to Richard and Gene.
I've watched this film countless amount of times and can almost recite the whole film.
Martin (Claude): "Well I hope you pi** the bed with that weak a** bladder"
Eddie (Ray): "Well, if I do, if I do,then I'll put the sheets on you."
Need I say more, who ever thinks this film is to long or boring and not funny, was not watching Life.
Try and go down to your local video shop and rent Life and discover the comedy brilliance.
Life should be adapted into a play and shown on board way.
Once more, Life is great!
I came to this movie expecting to detest every minute of it . Eddie Murphy is a comedy actor who was a big star for five minutes circa 1984 then thankfully disappeared while I find Martin Lawrence almost unwatchable in everything he has ever done . I was also expecting every single syllable to feature the F word and while there is strong language it's thankfully kept to a moderate level and both Murphy and Lawrence do their utmost best at making Gibson and Banks fairly likable
Some people have described this movie as " The black Shawshank Redemption " and I can see where they're coming from . Both both main protagonists are innocent and find themselves doing hard time for a murder they didn't commit andas they walk into prison we're treated to a voice over with the story spanning several decades though the structure is vague enough to stop LIFE being an out and out parody of SHAWSHANK . Where the film works best is in the early scenes set in prison . Be honest and ask yourself what would be the scariest thing ? The violence ? The unwanted sexual attention ? These things are touched upon though not nearly enough and the film starts becoming to its detriment more and more sentimental the further it goes on
A somewhat patchy prison movie but considering I thought I was going to hate every single moment before even watching it I was slightly surprised as to how entertained I was during its duration . By no means a classic LIFE does have some amusing moments
I'm not saying that it's a bad movie, but the mistake that the advertizers made was making it look like this laugh out loud comedy about two buddies who accidentally get put in jail and eventually get out. Plus, the advertisements were chalk full of "soap-on-a-rope" type humor and the usual goofiness one usually expects from typical Eddie Murphy movies. Well, the movie is, beyond a reasonable doubt, pretty sad. The premise is that these two guys get caught in a bad situation, get put in jail for life in 1932, have moments when they almost get out, but don't end up getting out until present day (or 1999, for those of you who are reading this years from now). Once again, this is a pretty good movie, although a bit sad. The biggest mistake was the advertisers. This is not your typical Murphy-Lawrence. Don't see this movie with expectations that there are going to be laughs throughout it. Don't judge a movie by it's cover.