A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Bad Boys is the 1995 violent debut feature of Michael Bay. Like most Bay productions, it's slick, exploitative, and has little in the way of redeeming value. The heroes are foul-mouthed, violent Miami narcotics cops who are charged with recovering a huge pile of heroin. Some minor characters are junkies and prostitutes. There is no nudity or onscreen sex, but plenty of sexual innuendo. The profanity is nonstop (including "f--k" and variations), and the nonstop violence includes fist-fighting, guns, blood, and explosions (and one gory, maggot-covered corpse). While most representations of women in this movie are sexualized and objectified, the lead female characters don't tolerate being patronized; nor do they sit back quietly while the men get all the glory and steal all the scenes.
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- Kids say
What's the story?
In Miami, a gang of criminals successfully steals a huge supply of heroin from the police. It's up to narcotics cops Mike Lowery (Will Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) to find the drugs to save their jobs. A prostitute friend of Mike's responds to a call from one of the careless criminals, and brings her friend Julie (Tea Leoni). The bad guys murder the prostitute, but Julie witnesses it and gets away. Due to a mix-up, Marcus must pretend to be Mike to keep Julie happy, and so Mike and Marcus must pretend to be each other, protect Julie, find the bad guys and the drugs, and avenge their friend, all the while trying not to blow up half of Miami.
Is it any good?
Making his directorial debut after a career in music videos, Michael Bay knows how to deliver a slick, good-looking film, colorful and filled with action. The film is also notable for its unique pairing of two African-American cops. But it also appeals to the lowest common denominator, and wallows in excessive violence and language, female stereotypes, drugs, product placement, and brain-dead sitcom humor. Bay's motto seems to be "bigger and louder."
Lawrence plays to his usual audience, but Smith hadn't yet found his sparkling star persona and comes across as a little arrogant here. Worse is the script concept that requires the two characters to pretend to "be" each other for the benefit of their murder witness. This leads to an excruciating series of fumbling, embarrassing jokes. Overall, the characters are not strong enough to provide any real emotional impact, and the violence and thrills are subsequently numbing.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the film's violence. Was it thrilling, or disturbing? How did it make you feel in the end?
What is the appeal of this type of movie? Are there any lessons to be learned from watching it, or is it just entertainment?
What are some other examples of "cop movies" in which two partners are "opposite characters" that work together in the interest of stopping the bad guys?
- In theaters: April 7, 1995
- On DVD or streaming: June 27, 2000
- Cast: Martin Lawrence, Tea Leoni, Will Smith
- Director: Michael Bay
- Studio: Columbia Pictures
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 118 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: intense violent action and pervasive strong language
- Last updated: April 16, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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