Kevin: Evanescence was dominating the music charts, Saddam Hussein was hiding in spider holes, and no one knew who Kim Kardashian was back when “Bad Boys II” was released in July of 2003. It took 8 years to get Will Smith and Martin Lawrence back into the roles that launched their film careers, and it’s taken twice as long to get another installment for Miami’s most trigger-happy cops since Crockett and Tubbs. While “Bad Boys 3” (aka “Bad Boys for Life”) was promised a few years ago, release dates and directors have come and gone, with much of the delay blamed on the difficulty of finding a window in both Smith and Lawrence’s schedules (although let’s be honest, probably more Smith’s).
But while we’ve been down this road before, we’ve got a reason to believe the most recent announcement will be different: they’ve confirmed the participation of Joe Pantoliano! You can’t have a “Bad Boy” film without a few scenes of Pantoliano’s Capt. Howard getting increasingly exasperated at the monumental levels of death and destruction caused by his top cops Mike and Marcus on every case, so Sony must be confident about meeting the new January 2020 release date to finally dangle the return of Joey Pants in front of us. In fact, this new development has me and CJ so excited that we finally wrote up our thoughts on seeing “Bad Boys II” last summer at the Alamo Drafthouse:
Kevin: So CJ right away you know that this movie is going to be amazing since these are the first three names you see in the credits: 1) Don Simpson 2) Jerry Bruckheimer 3) Michael Bay. That’s right, it was so important for “Bad Boys II” to get made that Don Simpson didn’t even let the fact that he died six years earlier keep him from producing it.
(Let’s stop and note that Bay ended “The Rock” with the credit “This film is dedicated in loving memory of Don Simpson.” Considering that Simpson was one of the most notorious abusers of both drugs and women in Hollywood history, I’d say that “Bad Boys II” is the film that should really be dedicated to his memory.)
CJ: I’d like to take it one step further. After this, as drugs move across the screen, we get “Bad Boys II.” That’s right, Michael Bay was putting this together and thought “It needs Roman numerals. It needs ‘Godfather’ status.” AND HE WAS RIGHT! I am not over-exaggerating when I say that “Bad Boys II” not only earns its Roman numerals, but it is quite possibly the single greatest movie since “Godfather II.” Who here wants to argue with me? I will fight you in any parking lot in America.
Kevin: Also, weirdly the credited screenwriters are Ron Shelton, the writer/director of “Bull Durham,” “White Men Can’t Jump,” and “Tin Cup,” and Jerry Stahl, who wrote episodes of “Alf” and is mainly known for being a self-destructive drug addict who was portrayed by Ben Stiller in the movie version of his memoir “Permanent Midnight.” I’m guessing the good-natured macho banter and wisecracks came from Shelton, and everything else from the former coke fiend.
Anyway, I also noticed in the end credits a listing for “Heavy Black Woman,” and two actors listed as “Gay Hairdresser.” I’m assuming this refers to the classic scene where our two top cops are secretly being filmed talking about the moment early in the film when Mike accidentally shoots Marcus in the ass, but wouldn’t you know it, the entire Best Buy makes the wrong assumption when Marcus keeps talking about what Mike “did to his ass” and how that is keeping him from getting an erection:
I guess the “Heavy Black Woman” is the one who yells at them later for exposing her children to “porno and homo shows up in here,” but I’m not sure why it is assumed that the two gay guys were hairdressers. Yes they are comically over-the-top gay caricatures, but it’s not like they were holding hair dryers or curling irons or anything. I’m just saying let’s not make stereotypical assumptions about their occupation just based on their sexuality, they could just as easily be interior decorators or musical theater directors.
Actually the above scene is why I call “Bad Boys II” the best ‘80s action movie that never came out in the ‘80s. By 2003 no one was still doing movies with “Three’s Company”-style misunderstandings where the mere notion that two men might be gay was considered ripe comedic gold, just as no one was making action movies about two cops taking down one drug lord and enjoying along the way tons of racial humor, xenophobia, and wanton collateral damage, with a final assault on a foreign compound not seen since “Commando.” Yet Michael Bay reminded us of why we loved that shit, and he gave us two-and-a-half hours of it.
Oh wait, another action movie throwback: as with Stallone in “Cobra,” Will Smith pulls out a machine gun that he apparently keeps in his car during a chase and the movie treats this as totally normal.
CJ: Because it is totally normal!
Kevin: Let’s also remember where we were as a nation in 2003. We had gone through 9/11, the war in Afghanistan, and were just a few months into the occupation of Iraq. Many people in the country were ashamed or at least ambivalent about America’s actions overseas, but Michael Bay sure as fuck wasn’t one of them. “Bad Boys II” ends with our heroes engaging in an unsanctioned military operation on Cuban soil which gets a number of Cuban soldiers killed and is likely to have huge international repercussions for the U.S. It’s hard not to note some possibly unintended symbolism as our heroes drives through and destroy dozens of decrepit shanty houses in a foreign land, before racing to the safety of Guantanamo Bay yelling “Americans, we’re Americans!” and “I pay my taxes, shoot them!”
CJ: I’m pretty sure when Bay edited that scene, he was naked, draped in nothing but the American flag, chanting “U-S-A!” as his editor sat next to him totally creeped out. Actually there was no editor there, it was just a stripper running around lighting off fireworks. God I fucking love this guy!
Kevin: Some readers may not remember, but at the time the existence of Guantanamo as a prison for alleged terrorists who had not been technically charged with a crime was considered such a black eye for America’s moral standing that President Obama made closing it a top priority. Then he took office, found out no one wanted to take the prisoners off our hands, and everyone stopped pretending to care about it. But at the time it was a hot-button issue, and by staging his climax at Guantanamo I’m assuming Bay wanted to push some buttons, or else he is so busy being knee-deep in pussy that he has no idea what is going on in the world.
CJ: What are the chances Bay actually tried to film at Gitmo? And at some point did he think he could cast actual prisoners? I bet somewhere in his mind “Bad Boys II” was all an undercover operation that he was running. He’d get permission to film on the base, then he’d get a few prisoners on screen “for authenticity,” and then a few pyrotechnics would go “wrong” and before we know it, a few unlucky bad guys are now dead. Years later he’d tell a reporter how maybe he had a hand in their deaths and he’s actually America’s greatest hero. He’s also fucking this reporter.
Kevin: Now let’s talk about our villain. I assumed he was dealing heroin or cocaine or something, but I forgot that he was dealing ecstasy. That’s it, fucking ecstasy? Getting that off the streets is important enough to cause millions of dollars in damages, endanger or kill numerous cops and civilians, and start an international incident 90 miles away from Florida?
Note that the only negative effects we see from his drug is one raver overdosing at a club, but for all we know he could have been taking a bunch of other shit too. Hell, Martin Lawrence takes two ecstasy pills at once and not only does he seem perfectly fine, but he’s actually happy for the first time in the film and and he even gets a boner after previously complaining about his erectile difficulty, so apparently this stuff is really beneficial to both your state of mind and marriage:
CJ: Hey Kevin, slow it down. Don’t you know the code? If we can save just one life from drugs, it’s worth losing several hundred innocent men, women, children, and stray dogs. What’s $300 million on new construction costs when it saves the life of a 22-yr-old Miamian who needed to unwind after a long day of not reading in Florida.
Kevin: Before we conclude, what was your reaction CJ to finally seeing “Bad Boys II” on the big screen? I know you are a loyal “Transformers” acolyte, but as far as I’m concerned, R-rated Michael Bay is the best Bay, and for my money this is his masterpiece. I know it is not hip to say probably, but Martin Lawrence is genuinely funny in this, and while it may not be Will Smith’s “best” performance, I think it is at least his most enjoyable.
However, can you think of anything in this movie that MAYBE wasn’t so essential as to require a 2.5-hour runtime? Maybe we could have gotten some kind of explanation at the end about how they totally get away with destroying half of Havana, with no repercussions whatsoever, if they hadn’t spent so much time on the aforementioned “Marcus tripping on ecstasy” scene. Or perhaps the sequence where they impersonate exterminators and Marcus discovers that rats “fuck just like us.” Or the scene where Mike and Marcus have a big laugh over pulling a gun on a terrified teenager:
I’d also like to know how the hell Marcus affords his gated-community waterfront Miami property on a cop’s salary, since it looks like his place is right across from Coach D’Amato’s spread from “Any Given Sunday”?
CJ: Not only is there nothing that could be cut out, but since this is a movie that juggles multiple chases and shootouts, three different drug gangs, the KKK, and a reliably awkward Dan Marino cameo, I’d say the runtime is just right, especially since “Bad Boys II” is about the same length as the average Judd Apatow comedy and twice as funny.
Although I agree about letting Bay off the PG-13 leash, and I’ve actually wondered what “Transformers” would look like if Bay were given an R rating. I feel like the Autobots would constantly need to be checking back at HQ, which is located at an old broken down shopping center that only has a strip club recruitment center and gun range.
Kevin: So CJ where would you put “Bad Boys II” in Michael Bay’s cinematic oeuvre? Up until then I had not been a fan, mainly because I found the action in his movies incomprehensible, but by the time “Bad Boys II” came around he had turned the corner and actually started caring about things like clear choreography and geography rather than just shaking the camera and cutting every 2 seconds (hear that Paul Greengrass?).
CJ: Well I think we know what I rank 1-5, so assuming we are ranking these “Non-Transformers Edition,” it goes:
1) “13 Hours”
2) “Bad Boys II”
3) “The Rock”
5) “Donny Osmond: Soldier of Love” (Yes, one of Bay’s first works of art was a Donny Osmond video):
Kevin: Well since we started this discussion with the invaluable contribution Joe Pantoliano has made to this franchise, let’s end by highlighting one of probably our favorite moments in “Bad Boys II,” and that is the way he says “aight!”: