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Parents' Guide to


By Brian Costello, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Raw humor, violence in thoughtful buddy comedy.

Movie R 1999 108 minutes
Life Poster Image

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Is It Any Good?

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This is a surprisingly thoughtful comedy, one that manages to address serious topics while still having moments of laugh-out-loud hilarity. Yes, Life is a buddy movie, and a buddy movie in prison movie at that, with Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence as the perpetually-bickering friends who are forced to spend over six decades of their lives in a Mississippi work camp (from the 1930s-90s), and still manage to maintain a friendship through countless ups and downs over the decades as the outside world and all its cataclysmic changes pass them by. It would've been a decent movie had this story been little more than a vehicle for Murphy and Lawrence to crack endless one-liners from one escapade to the next. But there's a serious side to this movie, addressing sadly still-relevant topics like wrongful imprisonment, racism, and homophobia. There's an unexpected empathy to these scenes that doesn't come across as forced or mawkish, and in no way slows down the comedy.

And it's a very funny movie. There's a scene near the end in which Eddie Murphy's character goes on a tirade about how cocaine is smuggled into the infirmary where he and Lawrence are supposed to be spending their last days that is flat-out hilarious. There's also a "meta" moment in the blooper reel that's amazing in and of itself. For a '90s comedy, much of the humor has held up, even as much of what is addressed is still, sadly, relevant. Maybe this will disappoint those looking for little more than an endless barrage of one-liners paired with slapstick, but for everyone else, the depth to Life is a pleasant surprise.

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