USA, 1983, Rick Rosenthal

Over a decade before The Fresh Prince and Big Momma’s House teamed up to make the somewhat gritty, action, buddy comedy of the same title, there was this movie. The Bad Boys of 1983 differs quite drastically from the one more recently directed by Michael Bay. For starters, the movie I am discussing today stars Sean Penn and is a prison movie. Also it is really cool and genuinely gritty, not just full of Amazing Race-looking choppily edited cutaways and shaky cam faux-grittiness like its 1990s namesake.

Mick goes to jail

Bad Boys follows teenage hoodlum, Mick O’Brien (played by Penn), as his life of juvenile delinquency leads him to wind up in a juvenile detention centre. One night while trying to pull a drug heist on some local gangbangers lead by Mick’s high school nemesis, Paco Moreno, things get out of control. Mick’s little heist attempt results in a shootout causing the death of his best friend, as well as a couple of other guys, and Mick’s ensuing high speed chase results in his running over of Paco’s kid brother. Needless to say, Paco becomes hellbent on revenge. So as Mick ends up in juvie and we follow his day-to-day dramas and possible path to redemption, we also follow petty gangsta, Paco, as his life spirals out of control and he targets Mick’s girlfriend, J.C. (played by Ally Sheedy), as his means of getting revenge on Mick.

Mick and Paco share some heated words

Bad Boys is, at times a brutally violent and unrelentingly vicious film but it also has a lot of heart. It is also a great early example of Penn as a performer. Mick is a character, who is initially truly hate-able but as the movie progresses you really find yourself rooting for him. When he first arrives in jail and all the inmates are spitting on him as he walks to his cell, I was like, “yeah, that’s what you get!”, but as Mick ran afoul of prison bully/rapers, Tweety and Viking, I found myself really wanting him to fight back. The scene where he does is an absolute classic. Also of note, the guy who plays Viking is Clancy Brown, better known as the voice of Mr. Krabs from Spongebob. Ferris Bueller‘s Alan Ruck also makes a small appearance, as does Reni Santoni (Poppie from Seinfeld) who plays a kind-hearted warden who still believes there is some good in Mick.

The unpleasant guy on the right is Spongebob‘s Mr. Krabs

And here is the trailer. Enjoy.