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I did not believe that the film "Life Is Beautiful" was laudable simply because such a horrifying topic should not be used in a light hearted manner, especially when it is intertwined with comedic moments. I felt repugnance with "Patch Adams" for its harsh use of comedy at the wrong time, the film was synthetic, I never felt one emotion of reality throughout it, on top of those catastrophes most scenes were ludicrous. What I liked about "Life" was its sense of reality, when people wake up and smell the roses and do not fool themselves with fictional thoughts, but this film was flawed. The timing for scenes here were mostly off, I would have preferred they manifest some more of what the characters were contemplating. Plus if there is one thing that annoys me its ignorance, when a film cannot make up its mind on what it wants to be, here it tried to be too much of what it did not have, drama. "Life" is supposed to be a comedy, and scenes are plenty of that, but the director should have omitted some parts that turn this film into "The Shawshank Redemption", then again not all movies are perfect. You do feel touched in some parts of the film, but at times it seems uncalled for and irrelevant, the editing here is catastrophic, although I did feel that it tried to be something great, if only they could have set the mood straight. I really liked the way "Life" started, with a some laugh out loud moments and great acting from Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence, especially Murphy who fits perfectly into his role as a low life thief and bootlegger from the 1930s in Harlem, Murphy produced this film as well as he acted in it. The timeline this film is in is classy and carried pizzazz, with all of that jazzy music and sassy clubs, and the film started out so well my expectations grew only to be let down, but not so badly.
As the film begins we are in the Mississippi correctional facility in the present day, two cadavers are being buried, the corpses are Ray Gibson and Claude Banks, two legendary inmates back in the 30s, two young prisoners cover the grave while an old inmates sits in his wheelchair and gives the brevity of a eulogy to his dear old friends. The two young fellows ask the old times if he knew the deceased, he replies with a nod and thus he reminisces back to the time when the two were alive and tells their story.
Enter a cool club on a hot Harlem night in New York city, we see the peephole in the backdoor and on the exterior waits Ray Gibson (Eddie Murphy), he is the hustler that is always in trouble and always in debt to someone more superior then himself. He is a fast talker and a free spirited man who has witty retorts and some scheme up his sleeve, Ray also carries ton of charisma and is always smiling or laughing, an egotistical guy trying to get by. As Ray watches another man at a table next to his speak smoothly to his lady friend he gets thoughts on how to steal this mans money, the man Ray is referring to is Claude Banks (Martin Lawrence). Claude is the more sensible man who wants to have a legal job, earn an honest living, and is always one step ahead of the guy behind him. The club the two are occupying is owned by a very connected gangster named Spanky, as it turns out to be both Ray and Claude owe money to him, and an unpaid debt means pain and suffering. The only you can contrast between the twos situation is that Claude tried to run on the bill while Ray is in on his debt legitimately. While Spankys goons are bringing forth some treacherous pain to Claude Ray has an idea on how to repay Spanky, he and a partner of his choice will go to Mississippi and smuggle some alcohol, Spanky agrees and Ray out of sorrow for the guy chooses Claude.
When the two reach Mississippi and get their business fulfilled, Ray decides to use whatever money is left to have some fun and play cards, well not to reveal so much, Ray is cheated by one of the locals and the man that cheated him is killed by some racist cop. As both Claude and Ray venture out of the club to get into their car the corpse of Rays perpetrator is laying on the floor and when four rednecks witness the two men standing over the dead body, its jail time. Well this falsely accused murder causes Ray and Claude to be imprisoned for Life, hence the title.
Now I liked the scenes in jail and the ones prior, but what follows is the film tries to exceeds its caliber and turns into Grumpy Old Men, for we follow the two inmates until they are 90, and I was not impressed with the makeup making them look like senior citizens. Well the film sort of died up by then and turned into bitter old fights with too many cliches. Overall I would recommend "Life" to anyone who wants a few good laughs and to see Eddie Murphy back in style, although you will probably love it if you are into Comedy and drama in one.
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since April 20, 1999