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Bad Boys

By David Chute

Sean Penn delivered a star-making one-two punch in the early '80s, debuting as stoner Jeff Spicoli in Fast Times at Ridgemont High and turning up only a few months later, all but unrecognizable, as a steel-nerved teenage convict in this raw, powerful prison drama--and both performances hold up remarkably well. While the story line of Bad Boys has the familiar contours of classic jailhouse melodrama (Penn's fearless Mick stands tall against a bullying Latino gang boss played by Esai Morales), the sense of tightly wound raw force the actor conveys is so convincing that it's actually a little scary. It goes way beyond the blunt-force impact of a standard action star; Mick's acts of violence are expressions of personality, practically eruptions of his life force. The authenticity of this portrayal is reinforced by the closely observed production design: the youth-prison set is so cunningly textured that many moviegoers took it for the real thing. Ally Sheedy also made her film debut in Bad Boys, as the girl Mick leaves behind on the outside.


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Buy this VHS movie from! (Click here!)Buy this DVD from! (Click here!)Soundtrack unavailable at - try eBay (see links below)Rated RNot on an American Film Institute 100 list

Director: Rick Rosenthal

Stars: Sean Penn, Reni Santoni, Esai Morales, Eric Gurry, Jim Moody, Ally Sheedy, Clancy Brown, Alan Ruck

Released: March 25, 1983

Availability: DVD VHS

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