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In the mid-1990s, two inmates bury the burned bodies of two lifers at Mississippi's infamous Parchman Farm; a third old-timer relates their story. They'd served 65 years for a murder they didn't commit, framed by a local sheriff while buying moonshine whiskey for a Manhattan club owner to whom they owed money. In flashbacks we see this odd couple thrown together (Ray is a fast-talking con man, and Claude is a serious man about to start work as a bank teller), the loss of Ray's watch (sterling silver, from his daddy), the murder and trial, the hardships of Parchman, and the love-hate relationship of Claude and Ray as they spend 65 years bickering and looking for a way to escape. Written by
According to the DVD commentary: During the diner scene, originally it was Eddie Murphy's character that was supposed to be angry about the "White Only" pies, while Martin Lawrence's character just wanted to leave. During filming, the scene wasn't working, so they came up with the idea of having them switch their lines. The scene played much better and that's how it appears in the finished film. See more »
When Winston Hancock cuts Sheriff Pike's face, the cut goes from his ear towards his mouth. Later, when the sheriff meets Ray and Claude, the bandage is vertical, going from below his eye to the side of his jaw. See more »
It's not mindless buddy stuff and it's not the Shawshank Redemption, but it's in-between (but not as good)
Ray Gibson and Claude Banks get involved with a local crime boss and end up doing some work for him to make up for their debts. However when running moonshine across the Bible belt they encounter racism and eventually get framed for a murder by a racist sheriff. Sentenced to life they experience a range of things but eventually find that friendship can overcome many things during a course of a life.
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.
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