"Y'all ever heard of a place called the Boom Boom Club?"Life begins in 1932. Ray Gibson (Eddie "I'm Gumby, dammit" Murphy) is a smooth criminal with big dreams. Claude Banks (Martin "Y'all my muh-fuggahs" Lawrence) is a straight-laced man who starts a job at a bank next week. Ray owes money to Spanky (played by Rick James; I ain't gonna even go there with that name), who runs a shady Prohibition-era bar. Claude gets jacked in the men's room for all his money; he therefore can't pay the bill and is faced with getting drowned at the hands of Spanky's goons. Ray then recruits Claude to accompany him to Mississippi on a booze-smuggling run. While down in Mississippi, they get framed for a murder and are sentenced to life in prison.
And that's where Life spends most of its film life. Ray and Claude get used to life in a prison camp; they fight with other inmates; they try to escape (unsuccessfully, of course); and something of a bond forms between the two after a few decades in the slammer. A standard prison story that's saved only by the script writers, who get some good laughs in among the usual "don't-drop-the-soap" prison jokes.
Life is a finely crafted movie; it just seems confused as to whether it should be a comedy or a drama. At any rate, Eddie and Martin carry the film quite well, and are hilarious as geezers. They damn well look the part, too... the makeup artists who turned them into old guys should win an Oscar (if Star Wars doesn't beat 'em to it). It's kinda scary how Martin in old-man makeup looks just like Grady from "Sanford and Son". Also: look for a cameo by rapper Heavy D as one of the gravediggers.Pardon the pun, but "Life" is what you make of it.