'Bulletproof' full of holes

Pairing of Wayans-Sandler won't warrant sequel

The Cincinnati Enquirer

It sounds so familiar: A crusty tough guy reluctantly shepherds a flaky criminal across country through wacky adventures and attacks by vicious bad guys. They fight, they bond, they go their separate ways.

Midnight Run did it best; 48 hours runs a fair second. Bulletproof finishes way back in the pack. Here's a lesson that Bulletproof didn't learn from the successful reluctant-buddy films: The actor plays the straight man; the funny guy plays the flake. Bulletproof casts a very funny guy, Damon Wayans, as the straight man and a much-less-funny guy, Adam Sandler, as the flake, Archie Moses.

It's a problem. Mr. Wayans is sincere as the cop who feels guilty about arresting the relatively harmless bad guy. But it's impossible to share his sympathy for Archie as played by Mr. Sandler. Aside from the brief sketch-type comic bits at which he excels, the former Saturday Night Live cast member's performance consists of whining, chattering and shouting randomly. That's not a character, it's a collection of mannerisms.

Fans of the two comedians will find some enjoyment in their occasionally funny interplay, but too much of the movie's humor revolves around graphic sexual and bathroom humor that quickly becomes as tedious as it is tasteless.

Director Earnest Dickerson as cinematographer co-created the striking look of Spike Lee's first half-dozen films. In Bulletproof, he shows his visual instincts are intact. For example, he pumps up a standard car chase with bumper's-eye-view camera angles and washes the back-country hunting lodge where the boys take refuge one night in hallucinatory colors and details.

But he cannot squeeze more wit from the so-so script by Joe Gayton and Lewis Colick, and he can't undo the wrong-headed casting of his two leading men.

Published Sept. 6, 1996.