Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence play Ray and Claude, two guys from New York in 1932. Ray is nothing but a hustler and Claude is a guy with a girlfriend and a new job. But when both of the run afoul of a local gangster, they're sent to Mississippi to get some Mississippi Hooch. While down there, they're set up by a white cop for the murder of a black man and sentenced to life in prison. While in prison they try numerous escapes, make some friends, and grow old together.
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 (lol for you chat junkies). 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.