Stephen Rebello, co-creator of the original "Bad Movies We Love" column, book and film marathons, takes aim at jaw-droppingly, dementedly wonderful Hollywood movies that we like to call "So Bad They’re Brilliant."
Are you jonesing for a flick bloated by vein-popping emoting, gaga dialogue, ludicrous plotting and absurd hairdos? You want to catch a bad movie buzz while taking a temporary break from that campy, girly man stuff that glorifies some of the best-ever bad movies? Then, grab your junk and get your macho on with Miami Vice, a lovably, laughably bad slice of chest-thumping, explosions, boat-racing and intrusions of completely random rock music. In its own way, it’s as campy and absurd as all get-out.
The flick tees off, of course, from the Michael Mann-created 1980s undercover buddy cop show that starred Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas, pastel suits, white loafers, pink Ferraris, hot women, Jan Hammer’s synth score, Johnson’s five-o’clock-shadow and whatever New Wave-y pop tune was big that nanosecond. But it almost seems as if director Mann (maker of the certifiably brilliant Thief and The Insider) set out to trash what made his once iconic, now irredeemably kitschy TV show such a wow in the first place.
Start with the misfired pairing of puffy-looking Colin Farrell -- voice shot from chain-smoking and sporting a greasy, trailer-park friendly dyed Road House mullet– and Jamie Foxx, whose tattooed-looking 'do is way more hypnotic than his dazed, disengaged performance. The tired plot throws together white supremacists, a Colombia drug lord and FBI agents posing as Russians – got that? – and it’s up to our heroes to infiltrate the organization and bring down the big guy, which they do practically in their sleep. “Why do I get the feeling everyone knows we’re here five blocks out?” asks Foxx of Farrell as they stride down a Haitian slum-scape about to meet their dangerous contact. It couldn’t possibly be because our heroes look like a couple of guys who just met on after an all-night bender on an Atlantis cruise lines jaunt and have decided to jump ship looking for rough trade?
Whatever Foxx and Farrell are supposed to be doing, they look like they’ve barely met, let alone actually like each other or work as longtime undercover partners. “Do you want to fuck my partner or do business with us?” Foxx snarls when designer eyeglasses-wearing, self-proclaimed “disco guy” Luis Tosar, the right-hand man of the drug mastermind they’re pursuing, says he doesn’t like Farrell’s looks. In this mess, who could?
Anyway, in nothing flat, the script demands that hot chick Gong Li, guffaw-inducing as the drug kingpin’s Chinese-Cuban money laundering sex toy, go weak in the knees for Farrell’s Billy Ray Cyrus charms. Trust us, if the duo’s dance club salsa dancing scenes don’t get you rolling your eyes, then their meant-to-be-hot-but-utterly-sexless love scenes (complete with sleazy music) will. Maybe it is Farrell’s deep philosophizing that woos the wooden, blank-eyed Li with puzzlers like, “Probability is like weather. It’s like gravity. You can never negotiate with gravity.” Which later inspires Li’s equally dippy musing: “Remember … I said … time is … luck.”
Well, whatever the hell time is, Miami Vice – which has ardent admirers -- proves how even a great moviemaker like Mann and terrific actors like Farrell and Li can be counted on for being enjoyably bad when going terribly wrong.