The Virginian-Pilot
                             THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT 
              Copyright (c) 1995, Landmark Communications, Inc.

DATE: Thursday, April 13, 1995               TAG: 9504130045
TYPE: Movie Review 
                                             LENGTH: Medium:   73 lines


THE BRIDEGROOM returneth - if only on film.

Martin Lawrence's marriage to a former Portsmouth beauty queen created quite a stir locally when he took wedding vows in downtown Norfolk.

Now he returns as one of the ``Bad Boys.'' It's sure to become a big hit, if only because it is the only action flick in theaters for the upcoming holiday run.

``Bad Boys,'' with a budget much bigger than you might expect, is replete with explosions, crashing cars, disco fashions and shoot-outs. Ironically, it is least impressive in these areas. Its appeal is in the comedy efforts of its two leading men, Lawrence and Will Smith. They are very funny for moments at a time. Unfortunately, to catch their act you have to put up with a preposterous and cliched ``plot'' that serves as a skeleton upon which to hang the action scenes.

Even though ``Beverly Hills Cop'' failed in its effort to become a ``III,'' its producers, Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer, weren't going to give up. The main thing wrong with the last, floperoo Eddie Murphy edition was that it didn't have enough comedy - they substituted explosions for laughs.

The producers fixed that by replacing Eddie with the two comics who play undercover buddy-cops in Miami. Lawrence is the married one. He has a wife and three children but he can't find any ``quality time'' to fool around with his wife. Smith, TV's ``Fresh Prince of Bel Air,'' is the bachelor. He has money, left by his family, so he can afford an expensive bachelor pad.

The two of them are forced (by a script so underdeveloped that it makes little sense) to switch positions. This forces poor Lawrence to take off his wedding band and settle down with a shapely witness in Smith's bachelor pad. Of course, his wife gets wind of the arrangement and raises you-know-what. Meanwhile, Smith's girlfriends keep showing up at the pad.

To strain the situation even further, Smith is staying over at Lawrence's house, which sparks suspicion, even though they are good buddies and all that.

The ``identity switch'' comic masquerade is one of the oldest ploys. Even Shakespeare used it often, and if it's good enough for Will Shakespeare, it's good enough for Will Smith.

The problem is a relentless plot about retrieving $100 in stolen heroin. The film's cop procedures have nothing to do with real police work or with anything resembling real life, so why do they have to be treated so seriously?

Tea Leoni, as the witness, has little to do other then complain constantly. Tcheky Karyo, as the snarling villain, gets little time to make an impression.

But Lawrence and Smith do show some sassy attitude. They bicker at each other a great deal in a game of one-upmanship that eventually becomes repetitive. At almost two hours, the film is at least 30 minutes too long.

When they're going for the jokes, the film works. The rest of the time, it's just another overblown and underdeveloped cop action flick. ILLUSTRATION: MOVIE REVIEW

``Bad Boys''

Cast: Martin Lawrence, Will Smith, Tea Leoni, Tcheky Karyo,

Theresa Randle

Director: Michael Bay

Screenplay: Michael Barrie, Jim Mullholland, Doug Richardson

Music: Mark Mancina

MPAA rating: R (language)

Mal's rating: **

Locations: Chesapeake Square in Chesapeake; Circle 6 and Main

Gate in Norfolk; Columbus, Kemps River, Lynnhaven Mall, Surf-N-Sand

in Virginia Beach

by CNB