Life (1999) Poster

(I) (1999)

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One of Eddie Murphy's best films.
TxMike22 March 2000
If you're not a fan of Eddie Murphy's humor, then skip this one.

The movie begins in modern times, 1997, with the main characters' funerals. The movie then flashes back to 1932 to begin telling their story, and continues as they age in prison in Mississippi.

They were "petty criminals" but were sentenced to life in prison for a murder they did not commit. However, being black in 1930s Mississippi did them no favors. The story that unfolds is irreverent and funny and has enough twists along the way to keep things very interesting.

I can't understand why the average rating of this movie is below "6". I give it "8" of "10" for its overall entertainment value, plus a few "life's little lessons" thrown in. I think it is one of Eddie Murphy's best movies.
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One of Murphy's most underrated films
SmileysWorld27 May 2002
Sure,Eddie Murphy has gotten credit over the years for being the comic genius that he is,but he does not always get proper credit for his movie work.1999's Life is a good example of Murphy getting overlooked.He does great work here,along with Martin Lawrence(whom I am not a huge fan of, but I must give him due credit here)as two men wrongly sentenced to life imprisonment.This is an excellent story,and casting Murphy and Lawrence in the lead roles is nothing short of a perfect idea.I never would have thought of them as a great team,but I was pleasantly surprised here.A must see for any die hard Eddie Murphy fan.
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Finally, an Eddie Murphy worth watching!
maverick-8612 July 1999
I found this film funny and inventive. Two adjectives that I have not been able to use for an Eddie Murphy film for a long time.

With a story line as good as this one, it was up to Eddie to see how he could develop it. If this film had a flaw, I think this was it. I believe had Mr Murphy decided to look really deeply into the role of Rayford Gibson, it could have been a possible "Oscar" role for him.

There are no doubts regarding Eddie Murphy's acting ability, yet sometimes I think he sacrifices the script and his role for a cheap laugh when it's not really necessary. It is possible that he is caught up in his own 'identity creation' of "Eddie Murphy: Comedy first, drama...maybe not!"

That said, Eddie Murphy and his worthy partner, Martin Lawrence successfully produce a comedy worth watching. I just hope that Eddie Murphy continues in this same vein. Please no more films like Beverly Hills Flop 3 and Holy Man!

Finally, a general point, which needs to be addressed, is that it is so strange how comedy films with far more substance, fail to do well financially. Moreover, there are films which fall short in quality, that can generate $100M+ for substandard, regurgitated, "comedy". "Life" which is struggling to reach the $65M mark falls into the former category. "Austin Powers: The Spy who Shagged Me" and "Big Daddy" definitely fall in the latter. The mind boggles!

Anyway, for those who have not seen "Life", go and see, you won't regret watching it.
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Life is a serious matter
jlacerra30 June 2001
After reading the user comments on this movie, it appears that the main complaint is that it is not the rollicking laugh-a-minute comedy that fans of the two leads expected. Once you let that expectation go, this is a great movie! It succeeds as a drama with comic tone. There have been some great ones that do this, and we mistakenly classify them as comedies. For example, M*A*S*H, Mr. Roberts, It's a Wonderful Life. These are pictures that provide comic overtones to people struggling to get through a very serious and overwhelming event: war, contemplated suicide, and in the case of Life, life imprisonment.

I was surprised at how good Murphy is in this flick.Not one of my favorites, he convinces as he ages and grows under the burden his character carries, that of an entire life stolen from him. And he survives with a certain dignity. Lawrence is almost as good, but he does labor a bit with the dramatic parts, seeming a bit uncomfortable shedding his comic bent. Note that when these characters are shown as old men, Murphy actually becomes an old man, Lawrence is still a young man in oldster's make-up.

Let's not overlook an interesting small role expertly understated by Ned Beatty, and the charm of Bokeem Woodbine as Can't Get Right. Life is well-mounted and the sets are as convincing as any I've seen. Comedies are rarely as dirty and sweaty as this movie.

I thoroughly enjoyed this picture, realizing early on that it was a very serious movie wrongly hyped as a comedy.
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"Life" Is Good
EdRooney18 April 1999
I cannot even begin to count how many `comedies' I have sat through that try to reach for the `timeless' formula by interjecting some lame dramatics to engage the audience even more than the comedy ever could. It's a practice as old as time in Hollywood. Most of these movies fail miserably.

You leave the theater thinking `It was funny enough, why couldn't it just stay silly?' My friends, I'm with you on every page. It's a slippery slope to juggle the two genres.

`Life' is the millionth attempt at warm-hearted comedy. It tries to make you pee your pants with its jokes, and yet slap your emotions around with the drama. And damn the odds, it fits like a glove. `Life' is also a film that defies much criticism. You either love stars Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence, or you don't. I'm in the first category. As the main characters, the two comedians prove just how valuable they are. Murphy is coming off a uniquely horrific year. `Dr. Dolittle' was a smash, but a career setback to say the least. `Holy Man' was an unmitigated disaster, but one that didn't effect Murphy with any real damage. The greatest gift `Life' gives to Murphy is a chance to show off range. Murphy is a very talented actor, and this movie makes you wish he would try a straight drama for once. Murphy can be devastatingly funny. But he can also be very dramatically convincing. With each new movie, Murphy grows as an actor. I really think he's set for brighter things. Martin Lawrence shares many of the same attributes as Murphy. He's terribly funny, and yet able to win your heart with a depth most comedians don't have. `Life' has Lawrence with the quieter role. He uses that chance to provide the film with a backbone. He eventually comes out the best rounded character in the fractured storytelling. It's a good performance, but even better, it's a brilliant pairing with Eddie Murphy. The two are seamlessly funny. Squeezing every moment for comic and emotional juice. It's refreshing to watch a movie with two actors who seem to be trying something different, all the while living up to previous expectations. Ted Demme is a solid director, a thought that immediately puts me in the minority. His `Who's The Man?' was a strictly silly romp, but was actually funny. `The Ref' was the critically lauded and sharp black comedy. `Beautiful Girls' is a film that every time I sit down to watch, feels as comfortable as an old cardigan. He's yet to falter in my eyes. I like his attention to detail, and his gift for trusting his actors. `Life' wouldn't work as well as it does without a specific amount of direction and free will. Demme manages to keep the film on track without ever succumbing to an over-reliance on improv. The best scenes in `Life' are the quiet ones: the gay inmate who's release from prison provides a dilemma, the passage of time montage, and Lawrence's moment with the freshly baked pies(which is actually comical, but who's counting?). The film seems like it was longer at one point, but the film on display here really pleased me. I would recommend this film to anybody that has lost faith in Eddie Murphy.------------- 9
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A great movie backed up by a great cast...
zeus-2710 August 1999
Martin Lawrence finally sheds his "Whats UUUUUUUUUUP!" image with a stellar performance in Life. Eddie Murphy returned to greatness with his first good movie in awhile. Hopefully this is the start of something good by having these two amazing actors working together. "Are you gonna eat that cornbread?" I couldn't stop laughing the whole time I was there. I give Life a 10 and recommend it to everyone.
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The meaning of "Life"
Sheila_Beers9 June 2007
I usually am not a fan of Eddie Murphy, but I thoroughly enjoyed the interweaving of comedy and drama in "Life." At first glance the title seems to refer to the life sentence wrongly given to the two men. As the story unfolds, the viewer sees the "life" they must make for themselves in the spartan setting of a prison in Mississippi. The end of the film should bring the viewer to question what he has done with his life and how much he has depended on "props" for a meaning to his own life.

Many who submitted comments compared "Life" with "The Shawshank Redemption," but a more likely comparison is "Cool Hand Luke," which starred Paul Newman in a similar story also set in a Mississippi prison. The comic gags, such as the warden's curvaceous daughter, were taken from "Cool Hand Luke." Overall, the film is rich in meaning as it shows how life in general is an interweaving of comedy and tragedy. Another comparison story is "Death Comes for the Archbishop" by Willa Cather, in which Ms. Cather shows how two priests, also in a spartan situation (a desert pastorate in New Mexico) and without the usual trappings of success, make meaningful lives for themselves while living sacrificially for others.
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I din't understand why this gets such a low score!
dcbaaca2515 February 2008
Excellent, simply brilliant.

One of the most funniest films I have seen.

I have seen this so many times and I don't understand why it has only scored a 6/10!

I always think that story lines that cover a large chunk of the characters' lives are always very interesting as the audience gets to see how they evolve and change with age. All of the characters pull this off - over the years we see Ray (Eddie Murphy) change from a young confident individual who never gives up hope to a tired old grouchy man who is hard of hearing; but its never sad. Even when the characters are riddled with old age the humour is still fantastic.
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I think the movie shows Eddie and Martin are really Super Stars
roach-517 April 1999
The movie "Life" is funny, warm and a bit sad. Because Eddie and Martin are innocent of the crime, you actually feel sorry for their situation. I kept hoping for them to escape much sooner, so that we could have seen some funny situations they would have been doing to avoid being re-captured. Two nuts on the run.
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Eddie's Best Film In Years
me@notu20 April 1999
Finally! Eddie Murphy is back. This is one of his funniest movies in years. And that wasn't hard to do. This movie is enough to make you forgive him for "The Nutty Professor" and "Holy Man". But, I'm not sure that it's going to be enough to make me forgive him for doing "The Nutty Professor II". Anyhow, he gets it right this time. This movie is one laugh riot from beginning to end. Murphy and Lawrence have good chemistry throughout the movie. It's a lot likes the chemistry between Lawrence and Tim Robbins in "Nothing To Lose". So, rush out to your nearest theater and slap down your $8.50. It's well worth it.
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It's not mindless buddy stuff and it's not the Shawshank Redemption, but it's in-between (but not as good)
bob the moo27 June 2002
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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Merely watchable
Epic-319 April 1999
Eddie and Martin are funny and have a good supporting cast, but have weak material to work with. The film's major problem is that in trying too much it achieves too little. It's okay for a film to try to be more than JUST a comedy, or JUST a drama, or JUST a historical film. Forrest Gump knew how to mix those three -- but by alternating them, so that one could taste each distinct flavor, not by trying to mix them in one big homogenous bland soup. That the boys are wrongfully imprisoned is sad; that their attempts to get out, via escape and other, more legitimate means, fail, is sad; when they bicker, it's sad. But neither of them really seems to feel the rage such an injustice would impart; yet the jokes are too few and far between to assume it's because we're just supposed to laugh it off. Meanwhile, a film that covers 40+ years gives only a nodding glance at the history going on outside the prison. I felt really uncomfortable being white during the racist scenes in the early parts, but those, at least, were handled with deft humor, and I was glad for the bit of redemption at the end. It's a little funny, and a little sad, and a little of everything else -- maybe a little like life, actually, but much less moving.
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I LOVED it, but it's not for everyone
lonicelee21 July 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This is a bittersweet comedy because of the subject matter, but it contains great comedic performances. I was happy to see such a wonderful ensemble cast. Miguel Nunez, Bernie Mac, Anthony Anderson, Bokeem Woodbine, Eddie Murphy, Martin Lawrence, Guy Torry, Nick Casavettes, Ned Beatty, Rick James (1st appearance after his stroke), etc. effortlessly portraying men of that era. Lisa Nicole Carson, Clarence Williams III and others were flawless in their bit parts. But not everyone will get it or enjoy it. The "N" word is used frequently, there's a lot of profanity and some harsh realities are revisited. ***** SPOILER ALERT ***** But scenes like "Jangle Leg pitching woo on the job" had me cracking my side and I want to go to Ray's Boom Boom room. Each time I watch it, I see something new. To the end, "Biscuit" stays in character running like a girl. Before it's over, Eddie and Martin look almost dead. But, I appreciated the late justice as most of the real stories weren't resolved while the victims were still alive. And the images will not allow us to forget or ignore that part of our history. Then the outtakes at the end had me laughing again. To me, a classic and even more great stuff on the DVD.
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Two of the funniest men of our time, in a serious movie?
chrisbrown645317 June 2002
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. 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.
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One of the best comedies ever, Eddie Murphy is great in here
butchfilms11 October 2008
This is one of my all time favorite movies, with great performances of Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence, the support cast is very funny too. I can't believe "Life" only has 6.1 stars, this should have at least 7.5.

The plot is about how the characters played by Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence met during the age of the prohibition in New York under difficult circumstances involving a mafia guy that forces them going to a business trip to get liqueur from the south, but in this trip they are going to have problems with the law and will be unfairly sentence to prison for life. We will be able to enjoy very funny moments in the years that they spend in prison trying to get out.

LIFE has one scene that is a tribute to the film "Cool hand Luke" that is really funny. this is my favorite Eddie Murphy's movie and one of his two funniest performances along with Beverly Hills Cup.
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It's funny but, unfortunately, nothing special
Florian-716 April 1999
Martin Lawrence and Eddie Murphy generally make up a pretty good combo but I left the cinema with a slight feeling that the movie didn't reach its potential. Neither the plot nor the humor make this one the blockbuster movie it could have been.

The soundtrack, by the way, is quite a disappointment. The song "Life" (performed by Desiree, 1998) --which was used to promote the movie-- doesn't even appear during the film.

Am I the only one thinking that Eddy Murphie's latest motion pictures almost always had plenty of room for improvement?
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A remarkably funny film that should be seen by all!
Shree11 December 1999
In this comedy drama of prison life and challenges, Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence provide outstanding performances as two bootleggers fiendishly framed for murder by a redneck sheriff in the Deep South of the 30's and given a life sentence by a racist jury. Each attempt at escape is met with additional punishment and hardships for these two ambitious friends.(p)

The film asks an important question as to what is the meaning of justice and whose rules are to be followed to create a semblance of social order. The talents of Murphy and Lawrence captivate and humor the audience from the beginning to the end. It is a comedic presentation of some of the other great prison movies such as PAPILLON and THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION. This is a must see for everyone.
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Whats the point?
Peter T. Movie31 October 1999
Warning: Spoilers
(Warning, possible spoiler). I don't really see the point of this movie. This movie is so bland. It really has a mix of everything. A little bit of comedy, a little bit of saddness, a little bit of suspense, etc. I am a fan of Martin Lawrence and out of all his movies I've seen this is the worst. Lawrence said in his interview that he made this movie because he wanted to do "something different". Well, this movie is very different from his usual home boy movies. I was relieved when Blue Streak came out and I saw Lawrence go back to his old image. As for Eddie Murphy, I really don't care what he does. Some of his movies are good and some are bad. I don't really have a solid image of Eddie Murphy since he has been in such a wide variety of movies and plays so many different types of people. Over all "Life" is an okay movie. It could be spiced up a little, but its not a waste of time if you're looking for a good story with a little bit of everything.
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It was OK
Chubbs-216 August 1999
Now look, I love Eddie Murphy, but in recent times he has strayed away for the roles which have made him popular, such as the roles in Beverly Hills Cop, 48 Hours and Coming To America.

In Life we get to see a glimpse of the old school Eddie, with the quick whit and wise cracks.

I enjoyed this movie, the laughs come steadily and it's a good story of a pair of guys who from the moment they meet they encounter trouble and how they were imprisoned for life for a crime they didn't commit.

This story is more about friendship and how it evolves over time, and the old versions of Murphy and Lawrence are something to see.

Overall it was OK, but hopefully in the future Eddie can get back to some old school stuff.
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Life is awesome
SMLA1127 May 2002
Life has to be one of the most interestingly funny movies of the '90s. Martin Lawrence and Eddie Murphy are a great comedic duo and they should be together in a lot more movies and their popularities would go sky-high. Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence are two men who go to an all-black prison for the rest of their lives. The side characters are really funny and their characters helped this movies comedy go great. The screenplay for this movie is very creative and awesome.

Overall the entire movie had no big flaws and was awesome all the way. Rating 10 out of 10.
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Never gets old
adambenoit7 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I absolutely love this film. I bought it on video dirt cheap several years back, watched it once and never thought about it again until a few years later when I watched it with a friend. I couldn't believe I had missed so many good lines and scenes the first time round.

It's the kind of film that cheers you up every time you watch it. The story is pretty tragic, on paper, but on screen it is a joy to watch.

Some of the lines of dialogue in the film have found their way into my everyday speech among friends. If someone asks to borrow something I may reply 'Oh hell no m***** F*****, you can't have my (whatever the item is) and that's for Damn sure!' Oh and the scene of Ray and Claude as old men playing cards with younger inmates in the prison infirmary has me crying with laughter every time.
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Hardly A Classic But Much Better Than I Expected
Theo Robertson23 October 2005
Rayford Gibson and Claude Banks travel south and get ripped off in a card game . Later that evening the two men stumble upon the body of the card shark and find themselves convicted of his murder for which they're sent down for life

I came to this movie expecting to detest every minute of it . Eddie Murphy is a comedy actor who was a big star for five minutes circa 1984 then thankfully disappeared while I find Martin Lawrence almost unwatchable in everything he has ever done . I was also expecting every single syllable to feature the F word and while there is strong language it's thankfully kept to a moderate level and both Murphy and Lawrence do their utmost best at making Gibson and Banks fairly likable

Some people have described this movie as " The black Shawshank Redemption " and I can see where they're coming from . Both both main protagonists are innocent and find themselves doing hard time for a murder they didn't commit andas they walk into prison we're treated to a voice over with the story spanning several decades though the structure is vague enough to stop LIFE being an out and out parody of SHAWSHANK . Where the film works best is in the early scenes set in prison . Be honest and ask yourself what would be the scariest thing ? The violence ? The unwanted sexual attention ? These things are touched upon though not nearly enough and the film starts becoming to its detriment more and more sentimental the further it goes on

A somewhat patchy prison movie but considering I thought I was going to hate every single moment before even watching it I was slightly surprised as to how entertained I was during its duration . By no means a classic LIFE does have some amusing moments
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Life is Great!
vonmozar28 July 2005
Life is the best prison film made to date.

Eddie and Martin are the perfect comedy duo simpler to Richard and Gene.

I've watched this film countless amount of times and can almost recite the whole film.

Martin (Claude): "Well I hope you pi** the bed with that weak a** bladder"

Eddie (Ray): "Well, if I do, if I do,then I'll put the sheets on you."

Need I say more, who ever thinks this film is to long or boring and not funny, was not watching Life.

Try and go down to your local video shop and rent Life and discover the comedy brilliance.

Life should be adapted into a play and shown on board way.

Once more, Life is great!
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One of the best buddy movies of all times!!!
jagger12246 October 2018
When I watch a movie now days I have high hopes for something close to what this movie brings to my enjoyment. Hard to find in the late 2000 teen years. I am getting old but this movie doesn't.
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A wonderful, light-hearted tale about friendship and prison.
TheLeon189719 September 2018
Hands down one of the best Comedy/Drama movies I have ever seen.

A wonderful combination of Comedy and Drama, the jokes are not absurd and put in all over the place like in many Comedies nowadays. The movie always makes you feel for the main characters, Murphy and Lawrence did a very good job in this movie.

This movies is higlhy underrated and deserves a place in the Top 500-1000 movies on IMDb. It a has lot of meaning to it this is such an important movie.

A must-watch.
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