For a good 20 years, Martin Lawrence was one of the biggest names in comedy. His “Martin” TV show lasted from 1992-97, and hit movies were popping up left and right, like “Bad Boys” (1995), “Life” (1999) and “Big Momma’s House” (2000). He re-teamed with Will Smith for “Bad Boys II” in 2003 and followed that up with 2005’s family sports comedy “Rebound”.
2006 was one of Lawrence’s most prominent years ever, with the release of “Big Momma’s House 2” and the animated “Open Season”, the first release from Sony Pictures Animation. The relationship between his Boog and Ashton Kutcher’s Elliot is one of the best in modern film animation.
In early 2007, Lawrence co-starred with John Travolta, Tim Allen and William H. Macy in the wildly popular “Wild Hogs”. ’08 saw two early in the year Lawrence comedies: “Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins” and “College Road Trip”. And rounding out the second decade were the hilarious “Death at a Funeral” (2010) and the not quite as successful “Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son” (2011).
In 2014, Lawrence looked to make a major TV comeback with the FX sitcom “Partners”, alongside multiple Emmy winner Kelsey Grammer. But the show only lasted 10 episodes. I wanted “Partners” to be funny, but it just wasn’t. The scenes felt stiff and stale, the laugh track didn’t help, and the chemistry between Grammer and Lawrence just wasn’t there. If the first 10 episodes did go well, FX would’ve ordered another 90 (like they did for Charlie Sheen’s “Anger Management”).
Lawrence didn’t make another on-screen appearance until last year’s “The Beach Bum”. But that was only a minor role in the little-seen Matthew McConaughey NEON comedy.
Though he is second billed to Smith, Lawrence’s reprisal as Marcus Burnett in this weekend’s “Bad Boys For Life” marks his first leading role in a movie in nine years. Let’s just hope it’s worth the wait.