`Streak' overcomes hijinks to make laughs
By BILL FUSZ
"Blue Streak" does not promise much more than an entertaining movie experience, and if originality is not criteria for a good movie, "Blue Streak" will be a fun hour and 45 minutes of Martin Lawrence's brand of slapstick.
The movie begins in the middle of a diamond heist where Miles Logan, played by Lawrence ("Life," "Nothing to Lose"), and three of his partners in crime try to steal a $17 million jewel. Things go tragically wrong, though, when the cops arrive and one of Logan's friends dies.
Pursued by a treacherous partner, Deacon (Peter Greene, "Pulp Fiction"), as well as the police into a building under construction, Logan hides the jewel in a third floor ventilation shaft in hopes of retrieving it after he is released from prison. Imagine his surprise when he arrives at the building two years later and finds it is now a precinct house for L.A.'s finest.
After attempting to enter the third floor disguised as a pizza man — in one of the movies dumber scenes — Logan realizes that the only way in is to disguise himself as a detective. After having a friend forge an i.d., badge and personnel file, Logan arrives hoping to slip in, get the diamond and get out.
As things work out, however, a new detective is just what the department needs and he is immediately assigned a partner and sent out onto the streets to fight crime. Utilizing his insider knowledge of burglary, Logan plays the hotshot his personnel file claims he is to perfection, earning himself the spot of lead detective, robbery division. Meanwhile he continues to search for the diamond in the ventilation system of the building.
One of the main faults of the movie is its utter unoriginality. While watching "Blue Streak," the viewer experiences this strange sense of deja vu as Logan find himself compulsively lying to the chief, his partner and all the other cops in order to continue to play the role of the detective.
It has "Beverly Hills Cops" written all over it frankly, and gives a real sense of Lawrence's admiration/imitation of Eddie Murphy. It's also just another remake of the mismatched buddy cop films that everyone knows so well: "The Corruptor," "Rush Hour," "Beverly Hills Cops," "Lethal Weapon," etc.
Logan's partner Carlson is played in lackluster fashion by Luke Wilson ("Home Fries," "Rushmore"), and is the classic naive, bumbling rookie cop that Judge Reinhold perfected more than 15 years ago. It's not Wilson's fault he cannot match up. He and the movie should have never invited the comparison in the first place.
Besides slavish imitation of the highest-grossing R-rated film ever, "Blue Streak" also has problems with pacing. After the breakneck — literally — pace of the opening scene, the film struggles through the next half hour. It is slow, it is painful and ultimately it should have been cut from the movie or drastically rewritten. Example: Extended two minute shots of Martin Lawrence dancing on a street corner in a blue velvet jumpsuit with fake buck teeth.
But the film is entertaining over all, in large part from the comic chemistry between Logan and his hapless friend Tulley, played by David Chappelle ("You've Got Mail," "Half Baked"). Tulley was one of the partners from the opening diamond heist who managed to escape. When Logan runs across Tulley in the middle of a convenience store robbery, he's forced to arrest him to keep his cover as a detective from being blown.
As the movie continues though, Tulley never quite seems to get it and repeatedly puts his friend in danger of being found out. His goofy antics and "Dumb and Dumber" style characterization help contribute to a lot of the best moments in the film.
Original it's not, but to get through the first half hour of "Blue Streak" will open up laughs and special effects good enough to please. As Miles Logan would say, "Believe dat."
3 out of five shamrocks
All Scene Stories for Thursday, September 23, 1999