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Life
     

Life

4.3 3
Director: Ted Demme

Cast: Eddie Murphy, Martin Lawrence, Obba Babatunde

 

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Comedians Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence team up for a story that wouldn't appear to have many immediate humorous possibilities -- two men serving life sentences in prison for a crime they did not commit. Life opens in Harlem in 1932, where Ray Gibson (Eddie Murphy) is a small-time con man in debt to Spanky, a gangster (Rick James). Ray spots would-be bank

Overview

Comedians Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence team up for a story that wouldn't appear to have many immediate humorous possibilities -- two men serving life sentences in prison for a crime they did not commit. Life opens in Harlem in 1932, where Ray Gibson (Eddie Murphy) is a small-time con man in debt to Spanky, a gangster (Rick James). Ray spots would-be bank teller Claude Banks (Martin Lawrence) at a gambling spot and, figuring him for an easy mark, lifts his wallet -- only to discover Claude is broke. Ray and Claude's mutual need to raise some cash brings them together when Spanky offers them a job bringing back a load of moonshine from bootleggers in the deep south. However, things don't go well for Ray and Claude, and they're arrested by a sheriff in Mississippi who recently killed a man and needs someone on whom he can hang the charge. Since Ray and Claude are black, from out of town and have been caught red-handed with a load of illegal liquor, the sheriff figures they're easy pickings and frames them for the murder. Soon the two men are inmates in a Southern work camp, where they spend the next 55 years learning to get along with the other inmates, avoiding the wrath of the guards, seeing younger prisoners come and go and never losing hope that someday, somehow, their innocence will be proven and they'll be released. Life is the second screen pairing for Murphy and Lawrence, who also shared screen time in 1992's Boomerang, and was scripted by Robert Ramsey and Matthew Stone from an original idea by Murphy. The supporting cast includes Ned Beatty, Clarence Williams III, Bernie Mac, Nick Cassavetes and R. Lee Ermey.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
This Eddie Murphy/Martin Lawrence prison buddy flick is an underrated tale of bad luck and persevering hope. While the film starts off awkwardly -- almost like Harlem Nights revisited -- the narrative takes off when the unkind hand of fate deals the duo a slew of cruel blows. With Murphy and Lawrence aboard (they also teamed up for Boomerang), one would expect a laugh riot, but Life is not a straight comedy: there are many sad and painful moments throughout the film. Both actors give surprisingly versatile performances: their love-hate buddy act has a chemistry reminscent of Murphy and Nick Nolte in 48 Hrs. or Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor. Director Ted Demme does a fairly superior job with the material, which embodies elements of Stir Crazy and even a few nods to Cool Hand Luke. Despite its lackluster box office and slighty-overextended scope, Life is above-average tragicomedy.

Product Details

Release Date:
07/24/2012
UPC:
0025192112102
Original Release:
1999
Rating:
R
Source:
Universal Studios
Presentation:
[Wide Screen]
Time:
1:49:00
Sales rank:
20,180

Special Features

Outtakes; Spotlight on Location: The Making of Life; Director's Edits; Rock Land/Interscope Soundtrack Presentation with K-Ci & Jo Jo and Maxwell Music Videos; Feature Commentary with Director Ted Demme

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Eddie Murphy Ray Gibson
Martin Lawrence Claude Banks
Obba Babatunde Willie Long
Ned Beatty Dexter Willkins
Bernie Mac Jangle Leg
Miguel A. Nuñez Biscuit
Clarence Williams Winston Hancock
Bokeem Woodbine Can't Get Right
Michael "Bear" Taliferro Goldmout
Barry "Shabaka" Henley Pokerface
Brent Jennings Hoppin'Bob
Guy Torry Radio
Lisa Nicole Carson Sylvia
O'Neal Compton Superintendent Abernathy
Poppy Montgomery Older Mae Rose
Ned Vaughn Young Sheriff Pike
R. Lee Ermey Older Sheriff Pike
Nick Cassavetes Sgt. Dillard
Anthony Anderson Cookie
Noah Emmerich Stan Blocker
Rick James Spanky

Technical Credits
Ted Demme Director
John H. Anderson Set Decoration/Design
Richard Baker Makeup Special Effects
Maria Baker Set Decoration/Design
Dan Bishop Production Designer
James D. Brubaker Executive Producer
Lucy W. Corrigan Costumes/Costume Designer
Mary Finn Set Decoration/Design
Tina L. Fortenberry Associate Producer
Brian Grazer Producer
Wyclef Jean Score Composer
Karen Kehela Executive Producer
Josh King Asst. Director
Jeff Knipp Art Director
Josh Lusby Set Decoration/Design
Eddie Murphy Producer
Robert Ramsey Screenwriter
Lori Rowbotham Set Decoration/Design
Amanda Scheer-Demme Musical Direction/Supervision
Margery Simkin Casting
Geoffrey Simpson Cinematographer
Matthew Stone Screenwriter
James Whitaker Co-producer
Russell Williams Sound/Sound Designer
Jeffery Wolf Editor

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Life 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Life was one of the funniest movies I have seen. Though I watched it at least 10 times each time it gets funnier. It's definetly a great movie to have at home. GO GET IT!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great movie! Had just enough comedic moments at just the right time. Would definitely recommend this movie! The shipping was in a timely fashion as well. Thanks MovieMars!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Once upon a time in America, life in prison meant precisely that. There was no early parole, no time off for good behavior. If you were sentenced to life, you could pretty much count on dying a prisoner in some godforsaken camp, farm or prison. Eddie Murphy is a small-time crook in Prohibition-era New York trying to get out of debt to a Harlem mobster. He sets up a scheme of driving some Mississippi moonshine to the mobster's speakeasy in New York. He ropes in as his driver Martin Lawrence, a bank teller who has also fallen afoul of the mobster because of an unpaid gambling debt. Murphy's character's weak nature gets the better of him and after receiving the liquor shipment, he decides to do some gambling in a rural club. He gets cheated by a local card sharp who later mouths off to the town sheriff, who murders him. Murphy and Lawrence have the misfortune of discovering the body, and being seen with it. They get, you guessed it, life in prison. The two, initially antagonistic to one another, are forced to rely upon each other in the brutal work camp to which they are sentenced. Time passes and they dream of the freedom it seems will be denied them for a crime of which they aren't guilty. There are a lot of moving moments in "Life" and with Murphy and Lawrence, even more funny ones. There is social commentary in the form of how black men are treated in the South, but it isn't strongly told or terribly compelling. Other movies explore that subject in greater depth and with greater insight. The problem with "Life" is that the filmmakers aren't sure whether they wanted to make a comedy, an examination of prison life in the Deep South of, say, 50 years ago, or a political/social commentary on the shaft given African Americans. They decide to do all these things, and in fact their reach exceeds their grasp. "Life" really doesn't give you any new insights into anything. It's mainly an excuse to pair two of the brightest comic minds in America. Watching the two at work individually is fascinating, but Lawrence and Murphy don't generate enough chemistry to hold any interest as a team.