Film: "Bad Boys"

Stars: Martin Lawrence, Will Smith and Tea Leoni

Theaters: Annex, Movies 8, Eastland, Admiral Drive-in and Cinema 8

(Broken Arrow, Sand Springs)

Studio: Columbia Pictures

Rated: R (language, violence, sexual innuendo)

Quality: THREE STARS (on a scale of zero to four stars)

What do you get when you combine the talents of mega-producers Don

Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer, of "Beverly Hills Cop" and "Top Gun"

fame, and Martin Lawrence and Will Smith, two of the hottest

hip-hop comics on series television?

The answer is lots of action and attitude -- with capital A's.

Those are the key ingredients of "Bad Boys," a standard-formula

buddy movie that's jazzed up considerably by the gritty,

give-and-take patter of Lawrence (TV's "Martin") and Smith (TV's

"Fresh Prince of Bel-Air").

The Simpson-Bruckheimer team invests "Bad Boys" with its signature

action shtick and glossy production values (lots of glowing orange

sunsets and pretty urban landscapes).

And the screenplay by Jim Mullholland and Michael Barrie (the

guys responsible for "Oscar" and "Amazon Women on the Moon") is a

catalog of cop cliches -- piling on everything from the bickering

buddies to the foul-tempered police captain to the oily villain

with the foreign accent.

But despite the film's utter predictability, it still provides a

fresh and fun time, thanks to the funky comic rhythms of Lawrence

and Smith as Miami police detectives Marcus Burnett and Mike Lowrey.

Burnett and Lowrey are long-time partners who are polar opposites

in their personal lives. Burnett is a down-to-earth family man with

a loving wife and children. Lowrey is a tropically cool,

fast-living man about Miami.

The character formula is straight out of "48 HRS." with its

teaming of Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy, and "Lethal Weapon," which

put Mel Gibson and Danny Glover together. This opposites-attract

mixture is a durable formula for comic sparks, and with ignitable

talents like Lawrence and Smith it works like an alchemist's charm.

Smith, who comes to this film with some heavy-duty film

credentials (notably a star-making turn in "Six Degrees of

Separation"), is convincing with the action stuff and quick with

the oddball one-liners ("Back up, put the gun down and get me a

package of Tropical Fruit Bubblicious").

But it's Lawrence who really governs the film as the family man

who wants desperately to be cool like his partner. Lawrence is

really winning as the sweet, foul-mouthed goof who's trying to

balance fast-paced street life with sedate family life.

The cookie-cutter plotline gets moving when a hundred million

dollars worth of heroin is stolen from the police evidence room.

Burnett and Lowrey were in on the original bust, so they're put on

the case, even as their superiors suspect them of being involved in

the theft.

Early in their investigation, the cops encounter a young woman

(Tea Leoni) who can identify the drug ring's leader -- a sinister,

brainy character named Fouchet (Tcheky Karyo). Burnett and Lowrey

find themselves having to protect this witness from being rubbed

out by the villain's thugs.

But through a far-fetched mix-up, the young woman is under the

impression that Burnett is the hip bachelor and Lowrey is the solid

family man. And this leads to some pretty funny switched-identity

jokes, with Smith playing it domestic and Lawrence bumbling along

as the footloose street dude.

First-time director Michael Bay, who learned his craft on

commercials and music videos, does a solid job of composing

quick-moving action sequences, and he gives his stars plenty of

room to strut their comic stuff. Part of the movie's charm lies in

the shoot-from-the-hip, improvisational air of the exchanges

between Lawrence and Smith.

With its loose-limbed, wisecracking rhythms and its energetic

stars, "Bad Boys" manages to overcome its shopworn premise and turn

the old cop-buddy movie formula in a fresh and funny direction.