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Life [DVD] [1999]

Release Date:10/19/1999
Combining the considerable comic talents of Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence, Life is a successful attempt to bring comedy to a film genre not normally known for humor -- the prison movie. Universal's DVD is nothing short of outstanding, with excellent reproduction of the feature backed up with a host of special features. The anamorphic transfer is just about flawless, with depth, balance, and rich colors throughout. The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track is of similar quality, providing a perfect platform for the selection of R&B songs featured on the soundtrack. There is certainly no shortage of supplemental features on this disc, including standard fare such as cast and crew biographies, production notes, and the film's theatrical trailer. The "Spotlight On Location" featurette, subtitled "A Look Into Life," runs to around 20 minutes in length, and is composed mainly of interview footage with the cast and filmmakers. Ted Demme's director's commentary is not always as informative as it could have been, but it is constantly effusive and contains a few interesting anecdotes. Probably the most unusual feature on this DVD is the "Director's Edit" section, which illustrates how Demme would have edited key scenes had it not been for studio interference. Other features include two music videos ("Life" by K-Ci & Jo Jo and "Fortunate" by Maxwell), trailers for Mystery Men and For Love of the Game, CD-ROM material, and a riotously funny collection of outtakes. Overall Universal has produced a truly marvelous disc, which offers just about everything one could reasonably expect of a DVD release.

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    Ratings & Reviews

    Overall Customer Rating:
    100% of customers would recommend this product to a friend (30 out of 30)

    Special Features

    • Spotlight on location
    • Feature commentary with director Ted Demme
    • Outtakes; Director's edits
    • Rock Land/Interscope soundtrack presentation with K-Ci and Jo Jo and Maxwell music videos
    • Universal showcase
    • Production notes
    • Cast and filmmakers
    • Theatrical trailer
    • DVD-ROM features


    Comedians Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence team up for a story that wouldn't appear to have many immediate humorous possibilities -- two men serving life sentences in prison for a crime they did not commit. Life opens in Harlem in 1932, where Ray Gibson (Eddie Murphy) is a small-time con man in debt to Spanky, a gangster (Rick James). Ray spots would-be bank teller Claude Banks (Martin Lawrence) at a gambling spot and, figuring him for an easy mark, lifts his wallet -- only to discover Claude is broke. Ray and Claude's mutual need to raise some cash brings them together when Spanky offers them a job bringing back a load of moonshine from bootleggers in the deep south. However, things don't go well for Ray and Claude, and they're arrested by a sheriff in Mississippi who recently killed a man and needs someone on whom he can hang the charge. Since Ray and Claude are black, from out of town and have been caught red-handed with a load of illegal liquor, the sheriff figures they're easy pickings and frames them for the murder. Soon the two men are inmates in a Southern work camp, where they spend the next 55 years learning to get along with the other inmates, avoiding the wrath of the guards, seeing younger prisoners come and go and never losing hope that someday, somehow, their innocence will be proven and they'll be released. Life is the second screen pairing for Murphy and Lawrence, who also shared screen time in 1992's Boomerang, and was scripted by Robert Ramsey and Matthew Stone from an original idea by Murphy. The supporting cast includes Ned Beatty, Clarence Williams III, Bernie Mac, Nick Cassavetes and R. Lee Ermey. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

    Cast & Crew

    • Eddie Murphy
      Eddie Murphy - Ray Gibson
    • Martin Lawrence
      Martin Lawrence - Claude Banks
    • Obba Babatunde
      Obba Babatunde - Willie Long
    • Ned Beatty
      Ned Beatty - Dexter Willkins
    • Bernie Mac
      Bernie Mac - Jangle Leg

    Product images, including color, may differ from actual product appearance.