review for Life on AllMovie

Life (1999)
by Mike DiBella review

This Eddie Murphy/Martin Lawrence prison buddy flick is an underrated tale of bad luck and persevering hope. While the film starts off awkwardly -- almost like Harlem Nights revisited -- the narrative takes off when the unkind hand of fate deals the duo a slew of cruel blows. With Murphy and Lawrence aboard (they also teamed up for Boomerang), one would expect a laugh riot, but Life is not a straight comedy: there are many sad and painful moments throughout the film. Both actors give surprisingly versatile performances: their love-hate buddy act has a chemistry reminscent of Murphy and Nick Nolte in 48 Hrs. or Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor. Director Ted Demme does a fairly superior job with the material, which embodies elements of Stir Crazy and even a few nods to Cool Hand Luke. Despite its lackluster box office and slighty-overextended scope, Life is above-average tragicomedy.