Feb 6, 2011

Bad Boys


It is becoming harder and harder from me to find the cinematic equivalent of junk food. Like junk food, I am very particular about the kind of trash sinema I further indulge in after my initial consumption. Last night, I had a jolly good time watching Bad Boys (1983) starring a very young and humble (despite portraying a violent criminal) Sean Penn. I originally discovered the existence of Bad Boys after seeing a tasteless trailer for it on my treasured dvd copy of Class of 1984. I figured if Bad Boys was exploitative enough to be advertised next to the cult classic dystopian high school film Class of 1984, the least I could do was give the vintage prison film a serious viewing. I can happily report that Bad Boys was an extremely enjoyable experience, certainly a film worth revisiting periodically, in a similar fashion to self-destructively clogging up my arteries after an occasional (about yearly) trip to Burger King. 


I can say with pride that I have never had the misfortune of watching Bad Boys, the directorial debut of abhorrent Hollywood hack Michael Bay, starring uncle Tom duo Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. That being said, I believe that the only film with the title Bad Boys that deserves to be acknowledged by film going audiences is the film directed by Rick Rosenthal. In Bad Boys, Sean Penn plays an American mick by the name of Mick O'Brien. O'Brien surely does not hold the mythical luck of the Irish as he accidentally kills a young hispanic boy during a wild car race with a couple men in blue. Mickey the mick's luck also proves to be in the negative when he realizes that the swarthy boy he killed was the brother of rival gang leader Paco Moreno. Bad Boys is a film that does not play the misleading game of political correctness like most modern day Hollywood features as the gangs featured in the film are racially segregated. Thankfully, director Rick Rosenthal (whether consciously or subconsciously) decided not to give any type of preachy social commentary as to the racial divisions featured in the film. 


Director Rick Rosenthal fittingly makes a cameo in Bad Boys as the judge that obnoxiously sentences Mick O'Brien to his stay at a juvenile detention center. Upon entering the teen penitentiary, O'Brien soon learns the dirty politics of an inmate duo-dictatorship run by a blonde beast known as Viking and an uncouth Negro nicknamed Tweety. Mick shares a prison cell with a deranged miniature Israelite appropriately named Barry Horowitz. Barry looks and acts like art house auteur Harmony Korine as he did (before heroin when appeared on Letterman in 1995) during his teenage skateboarding years. Barry earned his stay at the juvenile detention center after attempting to blow up up a building containing a couple bullies (Barry admits that he ended up killing 3 innocent people, leaving the bullies unscathed) that had beat him up earlier. I hate to say it but blowhard Barry (he admittedly loves to converse) is easily the most charismatic and interesting character in Bad Boys. Although Sean Penn does a decent job playing a juvenile jailbird in the film, it is hard to imagine after watching Bad Boys that he would later play a ridiculously retarded father in I am Sam. The quality of Penn's performance in Bad Boys fits in somewhere between his role as Spicoli (his greatest performance) in Fast Times at Ridgemont High and his role as a post-virginal retard in I am Sam (his most embarrassing performance). 


Not too long ago I watched Felon (2008), another film that shows the absurdity of racial diversity when humans are forced to stay in the most savage of manmade concrete habitats. Although I enjoyed Felon to a certain notable degree, I have no interest in watching the film ever again. For me, Bad Boys was no doubt a different kind of experience as I plan on revisiting the film sometime in the foreseeable future. Like Class of 1984, Bad Boys radiates a certain kind of vintage gritty charm that cannot be duplicated in modern films. The film opens with photos of innocent looking grade school, before they were exposed to the utter depravity of urban jungles and turned into metropolitan manimals themselves. Like many Hollywood prison films, Bad Boys ends with an asinine sentimental message of hope. It has been nearly 30 years since the film was released and there is no sign of decreasing crime but that does not deduct from the (albeit redundant) message of the film. The main moral intendment of Bad Boys it that no matter how bad of an environment one grows up in, everyone makes a conscious decision regarding the actions that will play a big role in dictating their future. Admittedly, I do not support rational decisions for every set of circumstances. I was certainly glad when Barry attacked the prison official with a golf club (easily the funniest scene in the movie) in Bad Boys after he was condemned to solitary confinement (a one man ghetto for a Judaic certainly cannot be a pleasurable experience) for the remainder of his penitentiary sentence. As the film Bad Boys testifies to, most individuals receive jail time by making deficient decisions usually in a pathetic attempt to prove their uncivilized pseudo-masculinity. I have seen some of my childhood friends go down this downward spiraling road and there was certainly no absurd 'rehabilitation' during their caged prison stay. Bad Boys may not scare aspiring criminals straight but it is without fail when it comes to engrossing cinematic recreation. 


-Ty E

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