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Bulletproof
1996 - R - 84 Mins.
Director: Ernest Dickerson
Producer: Robert Simonds
Written By: Joe Gayton
Starring: Adam Sandler, Damon Wayans, James Caan,
Review by: John Ulmer
   
"Bulletproof" is one of the most homoerotic films ever made. Either intentionally or unintentionally, it comes across as an extremely sophomoric, clich├ęd exercise in tired comedy routines that were tried and tested since the '80s. It is yet another comedy of mixed ethnic races -- just like "Running Scared," "Lethal Weapon," "48 Hrs.," "Money Talks," etc. It's so poor that apart from an entertaining setup the movie becomes almost painful to watch.

The movie stars Damon Wayans and Adam Sandler as an undercover cop and an unsuspecting criminal respectively. Wayans, whose first film was the glorious "Roxanne," still knows his comedy -- it's just rather unfortunate that he has lowered his standards so far as to appear in low-grade trash such as this.

Sandler, who is occasionally funny in the right role ("Happy Gilmore," also released in 1996, is great), gives one of his worst performances here. He mumbles helplessly through the messy screenplay; there's a scene in which the two buddies find themselves inside a plummeting plane that had me laughing. Not because it was funny (intentionally at least) but because we are expected to believe that Sandler's character knows how to fly a plane as he takes the pilot's seat and simply pulls back on the throttle a bit to level it out. How humorous.

Jack Keats (Wayans), who is doing undercover work and posing as a criminal to lure his way into a crime underworld with the help of unsuspecting partner Archie Moses (Sandler). After a powerful crime lord's operation is busted by Keats and his team, Archie accidentally shoots his so-called partner in the head.

After a brief coma and a startlingly miraculous recovery, Keats is asked to transport Archie to federal protection. He reluctantly boards a plane with Archie, only to be pursued by hit men, etc. Their plane crashes, they travel a bit, uncover a crooked cop, and that's it: the movie basically ends after all of this. It is a measly 84 minutes long and feels even shorter. I mean that as a negative comment. It's like watching a pilot for some sort of bad television sitcom loaded with foul language and violence -- stupid, dumb, revolting.

The homosexual undercurrent I mentioned earlier is almost disturbingly blatant. Some of it seems disgustingly intentional. Of course, I'm not going to say that any movie dealing with homosexuality is appalling. But the manner in which "Bulletproof" goes about portraying its characters and their fetishes is most disturbing. Take, for instance, the scene in which Archie and Keats spend the night at a small-town motel, run by a nerd with thick-rimmed glasses and a face which is almost revolting to look at. For apparently no reason whatsoever, Archie goes into a long monologue asking the motel owner if he'd like to spend the night with Keats, that Keats is gay, that they should try having a "sandwich" sometime with the man's wife. This goes on quite appallingly for at least three minutes. All the while Keats is standing a few feet away but yet cannot hear what they're discussing? And that's just some of the film's more unappealing material. There's more, such as when Archie promises to do something with James Caan's crime lord figure that I can't even write in this review, and then later is asked whether he really said it or not. "No, I don't think I said that." Then there's lines such as, "I'm falling in love with you all over again, man," that indicate more than admiration between the two men. It doesn't sound as revolting as it does in the movie -- like "Slackers" this film leaves the viewer feeling dirty, rather than clean and uplifted. I have a firm belief that all the great buddy movies -- "Planes, Trains and Automobiles," "Lethal Weapon," "Midnight Run" for example -- primarily work because of the characters, the actors portraying them, and the screenwriter's ability to create realistic dialogue and have his characters actually go through progression. None here. Just lots of stupid chase scenes and unfunny buddy moments. If not for "Going Overboard" I'd call this Sandler's worst film. What a mess.
 
Movie Guru Rating
Disappointing.  Had the right ingredients and should have been better. Disappointing.  Had the right ingredients and should have been better.
  2 out of 5 stars

 
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