Sam Strange Remembers: BAD BOYS

This film has the heart of a 90 year old smoker.

We live in a new world. But it's just a little bit older than when it was really new. Back then, we really had no idea what it meant to be in a new world. We just knew we were in one. This new world dictated that we do things differently from old world ways. But we didn't always know how. As a result, we screwed some stuff up. Hence, Bad Boys.

If I could go back and do it all over again, I'd probably make some changes to Bad Boys. One of these days I'll rewatch Bad Boys II and let you know if I need to wish I could do that one over again as well. For now, let's just stick to this one, though.

Bad Boys was meant to supply the new world with a buddy cop action film. Normally stories like this demand some easily understandable divergent dichotomy to identify both partners and their potential strife, i.e. one is usually black and one is usually white. I tried that here but with two black guys. That was just the beginning of my miscalculations.

As you probably guessed, the bad boys described by the title are not actually the film's bad guys, but the film's two main characters, Mike Lowry and Marcus Burnett, two truly atrocious Miami narcotics police officers who also happen to be fifteen year olds. Because they are such bad boys, they get to enter a special program that lets them become police officers instead of going to high school.

Marcus is the domesticated one, having a wife at home as well as three kids. He doesn't know them that well though, so neither do we. One looks like a nerd. Deep down, Marcus is probably a good man. He struggles but means well.

Mike, on the other hand, is deeply fucked up. This movie needed fast sports cars, but such a thing is hard to come by on a cop's salary, so the script dictated that Mike be super rich and a police officer merely by choice. That would seem almost noble if he were not also a psychopathic killer and a celebrated womanizer on top of that. We see both cops achieve their goals through illegal means, but Mike is the only one who doesn't really feel bad about it.

For instance, there's one scene where Mike and Marcus need to get some info from a rat. Fed up, Mike points his gun at the fink's face and threatens to blow it off. Assuming he's doing a whole "good cop/bad cop" thing, Marcus plays along. But then he spills some milkshake on Mike's $2,000 shoes and Mike turns a second gun on him.

Now he's holding two guns. The camera swirls around the whole scene dramatically, and Marcus doesn't know what's going to happen next. Suddenly the perp's phone rings and in surprise Mike shoots him in the face. Relieved, Marcus calms down and confesses, "For a second, I thought you were going to kill me." But Mike isn't laughing: "I was." Then Mike cuts the dead guy's testicles off to add to his necklace.

See, the whole thing about buddy comedies is that deep down, the two cops have to come together as pals despite their differences. But that never happens here. Mike and Marcus hate each other to their very core. They insult one another from beginning to end. It's not funny bickering. It's just bitter insults. Neither one respects the other's lifestyle, and the only overlap their personalities share is their hatred for due process.

We maybe could overcome their animosity if we had a good cop movie backing them up. Unfortunately I found in editing that I did not have such a luxury. What I had instead was about about three hours of comic riffing and twenty minutes of plot. So I had to restructure the movie around comic digressions between two characters who hate each other, further exasperating how much they hate each other.

In other words, Bad Boys is very occasionally an action movie, but spends most of its plot on a cute device in which Marcus has to pretend to be Mike while Mike pretends to be Marcus and has sex with Marcus' wife and makes all his kids love him more and then accidentally kills one of them while using him as a target practice sheet. Meanwhile, Marcus tries as hard as he can to not have sex with a really hot lady who wants to have sex with him solely because she thinks he's Mike Lowry, the famous womanizer. This film has the heart of a 90 year old smoker.

I guess I should back up. See, Marcus and Mike did a really big drug bust before the movie began. But one day they find all that dope stolen from the police headquarters evidence room. It soon becomes clear that many years ago the room was remodeled so a ventilation shaft opened right into the evidence area. Clearly this was an inside job. They go to interview the nitwit who designed the ventilation only to find him totally dead. For fun, Mike poops on the dead guy's face. Marcus laughs.

Somehow Tea Leoni gets involved. She's a lady who looks like and hangs out with prostitutes, but isn't actually a prostitute. Her prostitute pal gets killed by the bad guys, so she goes on a mission of vengeance. The only cop she'll talk to, however, is Mike Lowry because her dead pal told her what an awesome lay he was.

Unfortunately, Mike Lowry is burying some of the orphans he accidentally ran over in his porsche when she calls the police station, so Marcus has to take his place.

That's pretty much the whole movie. Eventually it ends, just after a big explosion. There's a main bad guy, but I don't remember him much. I know that at the end he dares Mike to shoot him, but Mike refrains, even though it clearly causes him spiritual pain. Luckily the bad guy pulls a gun and Mike can empty his weapon into his face and then rape his corpse. Then he finds another gun and empties it, too. Then he hijacks a plane and flies it directly into the dead bad guy's junk.

I don't know what else to say, really. I fucked up. It didn't take me long to figure out how to make new world movies, but this first attempt is a disaster. I'm not sorry, though. Tons of people watched the film, which proved once and for all how little empathy the human race has for itself. This allowed me to really branch out as a filmmaker and confront the world as it was rather than how we'd all like it to be. Hence, Bad Boys II.

(three forgotten stars)