July 18, 2003 -- Now in theaters: Bad Boys II, How to Deal and Johnny English.
Bad Boys II How many cars can we see totaled in one summer at the movies? In Hollywood you can't be too thin or too rich … but you can have too many car chases.
You certainly can have too much of a good thing. This movie is too loud, too long, too impossible, too violent, maybe that's why they call it Bad Boys II.
But there are also two hurt-yourself-funny set pieces. I love Will Smith. And this is the first film this summer to pass the Joel Siegel sequel test: If this had been the first one would you want to see a sequel of it? Yeah. Although shorter.
The original Bad Boys in 1995 made Smith and Martin Lawrence $20-million, name-above-the-title stars.
This time out, Smith and Lawrence mix it up with the Ku Klux Klan, the Russian Mafia, and Cuban drug dealers in a plot that involves pill-smuggling in coffins. What the script lacks in coherence, the 2 ½-hour movie makes up in volume.
There's even a love interest. Lawrence's little sister, portrayed by Gabrielle Union, is dating Smith. She's also an undercover DEA agent.
There's a great car chase, with Smith and Lawrence in a Ferrari and the bad guys in a huge car carrier that's dropping cargo on the causeway. Great stunts. Great idea.
If Bad Boys had opened in May it'd be the must-see movie of the summer. But by mid-July we've already seen elaborate car chases in The Matrix Reloaded, The Italian Job and Terminator 3.
Here's a question: When does a good thing become too much of a good thing? The answer: Two hours into Bad Boys II. Grade: B.
How to Deal You can't blame me for thinking this would be a sweet coming-of-age romance with Mandy Moore, who just wonderful in the huge hit The Princess Diaries.
"First loves are never over," Grandma tells her. But, it turns out, Grandma smokes marijuana and Daddy is a total idiot.
What's even more conspicuous: A blatant abundance of product placement. They ought to pay us for going to this movie.
How to Deal would be a terrible movie anyway, but here are seven reasons parents with children under 13 years old might want to practice due diligence: sex scenes, the F-word, teenage pregnancy, teenage death, tobacco use, alcohol use, drug use. Grade: D.
Johnny English Now this is a film you can take your kids to see.
Rowan Atkinson, aka Mr. Bean, is a brilliant physical comic. He plays a clerk in the British Secret Service, and his boss tells him he'll let him be a real agent only if all the other agents die. Of course, they do, and the bad luck just keeps on coming.
Johnny English is a series of sight gags based on a theme. Think of TV when families would gathered 'round the tube to watch Lucille Ball work the conveyor belt at the chocolate factory.
Johnny English is more I Spy than the genuine genius of Austin Powers. It ain't great, but it's funny because he's funny. Grade: C+