For this week’s FandomFlix, we will be discussing Bad Boys and its sequel, which you can catch on Netflix in the US.
Michael Bay does not make “good” movies and not many people would argue against that. Just taking a look at his filmography on Rotten Tomatoes proves that flat out.
Even with all its flaws, when you see trends like this, Rotten Tomatoes does provide some value. As a director, Bay has exactly one “Fresh” movie – 1996’s The Rock, coming in at a gentleman’s 66%.
The Critics vs Bad Boys
His movies have fared slightly better on the audience side, but it’s still not great and perhaps no two movies are better examples of the critic/audience divide than Bad Boys and Bad Boys 2. Bad Boys has a 42%/78% critic/audience split, while Bad Boys 2 comes in at 23%/78%.
So what does that tell us? Honestly, probably not a whole lot. General audiences are more receptive to big action set pieces, explosions, witty banter and all of the standard Michael Bay conventions. These tropes tend not to sway critics or at least not when that’s all a movie has to offer and Bad Boys and Bad Boys 2 don’t have much beyond that.
The Art of Dumb Fun: The Michael Bay Guide
Hate it or love it, you have to respect Bay’s commitment to his vision. You can easily recognize his movies for their fast cuts, explosions, stylized action, more explosions, ridiculous plot points, and yes, even more explosions.
The man knows what he wants to make and he makes it. Amid some real stinkers, Bad Boys and – to a lesser extent – Bad Boys 2, mark some higher points in his filmography, at least from an entertainment standpoint.
If all you’re looking for is a fun, funny, turn-your-brain-off action movie, then Bad Boys is just the ticket. Will Smith and Martin Lawrence keep the engine running and Bay’s signature style keeps you engaged with big set pieces and numerous intense action sequences. The plot’s nothing special, and it’s riddled with cliches. But it’s just interesting enough to hold your attention in between the chases and shootouts and explosions.
Also read: Knives Out Outgrossing Last Jedi In China
Bad Boys 2 is essentially just more of the same. Much more of the same, actually, with nearly 2.5 hours run time. And that’s probably the biggest negative for the sequel. For fans of the CinemaSins YouTube channel, you’re no doubt familiar with the “Movie has time for this” sin they use. That sin feels like it was invented for Bad Boys 2.
Bad Boys 2: More Of The Same
There are countless scenes that serve no purpose whatsoever and truthfully should have been cut. There’s the bizarre inclusion of the Ku Klux Klan in the movie’s opening and there was no reason to make them Klan members. It resulted in much unnecessary confusion. There’s a particular scene involving rats that I don’t need to go into detail on (if you know, you know). Then there’s the very uncomfortable scene in a Best Buy-type store that veers dangerously close into outright homophobia.
But once again it’s stars Smith and Martin that do most of the heavy lifting. Their chemistry is undeniable, which makes even some of the most sophomoric dialogue – of which there is plenty – palatable or even enjoyable. And the addition of Gabrielle Union to the cast as Marcus’s sister Syd was a breath of fresh air.
Union’s character is still fetishized by Bay, which is one of the bigger ongoing issues with his movies. But least the story gives her quite a bit more to do than Téa Leoni’s supporting character in the first movie.
All in all, both Bad Boys and Bad Boys 2 are perfectly fine and fun action movies. They won’t be mistaken for Oscar winners, and nobody is going to praise them for their intricacies or how they changed the genre. But if all you need is something fun to have on in the background, or something that you can turn your mind off during and simply enjoy it, you could do far worse than either of these.