No belly-roars here, and none intended. Murphy & Lawrence intend for the viewer to lightly chuckle ... then reflect on what makes life worth living.
It took about 24 hours after fin for me to start liking this film. Until then I was nearly seething about it. A plotline lifted from "Shawshank Redemption." A prison-yard fight scene copied wholesale from "Cool Hand Luke." It felt as though the duo were failing at an attempt to channel Pryor & WIlder's "Stir Crazy." The film was rife with offensive & negative racial stereotyping. Cliches, lots of cliches. Example: "We don't need no fences round our prisons out here in the swamp." And just what gives with 50 years passing in a swamp prison without a drop of sweat equity being shown? I had begun to think Murphy & Lawrence had decided to schlock something together ... just to fill holes in their shoot schedules and have the chance to do some cheap bits together.
Slowly, though, it seemed to sink in. That was the level of film targeted straight into the popcorn munchers. Yuck-it-up fror 120 minutes with (offensive) racial slapstick and prison film cliches. But Murphy had just a bit more to say with this film than that ... if he didn't, well, he wouldn't have titled it "Life."
Not too long ago, I viewed "Lost in Translation." Viewers know the characters exchanged names, phone numbers ... but never see it. Viewers know they made love ... because she plays the spurned lover ... but viewers never see it. Here in this film, viewers know there was decades of cruel abuse, backbreaking labor, wicked injustices ... but viewers never see it.
Instead we see those few moments the duo find worthy of remembering ... 12 years from one to the next in one case ... 28 years in another case. And isn't that life? That when we look back over past decades, that there are those very few certain moments -- often the briefest of moments -- that are just too fond or just too painful, that they refuse to stay forgotten?
Murphy lets us savor those few moments, the ones that belong to these two characters. And lets us see that they were far more savory than the time we first see them idle way in freedom. It is these kind of moments that give a life satisfaction, Murphy is arguing, no matter what happens the rest of time, no matter where that life is spent. Murphy's trying to show viewers just where to grab to catch life's brass ring.
RECOMMENDATION: Worthy viewing.