30 June 2001 | jlacerra
Life is a serious matter
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.