Life

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Life

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Life

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Considering its epic length and scope, not an awful lot happens in the new Eddie Murphy/Martin Lawrence movie Life, at least nothing particularly exciting. Seeing as how the two spend most of the movie in prison, that might be part of the point, but given the two leads, it seems a bit perverse to make Life this dull. The film opens in 1930s New York, as the button-down-respectable Lawrence and the streetwise Murphy meet. Through a series of complications, they end up heading south in search of bootleg liquor and find themselves sentenced to life in prison for a murder they didn't commit. It's an interesting set-up, but once it's established, the film proceeds to go directly to nowhere. Episodic to the point of absurdity, Life shuffles through various prison-yard happenings—a mentally handicapped inmate's (Bokeem Woodbine) pardon due to his baseball prowess, a gay prisoner's (Miguel A. Núñez Jr.) angst at being released back into "normal" society—with all the intensity of a failed revamping of Hogan's Heroes. But at least that show had instantly discernible characters; Life barely differentiates among the members of its crowded cast. After a while, even Murphy and Lawrence's characters start to lose their definition, as the film degenerates into alternating between the duo bickering at each other beneath old-man make-up and reflecting poignantly on the time they've lost. After sitting through this sluggish, laugh-free comedy (or is it an ineffectual drama?), you might be inclined to do the latter, as well.

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