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How Bad Boys: Ride or Die became this year's summer blockbuster


Hollywood always likes a good blockbuster to kick off the summer movie season, and this year, it has a surprise hit, the fourth installment of the "Bad Boys" buddy cop franchise, starring Martin Lawrence and Will Smith.

PFEIFFER: Hollywood always likes a good blockbuster to kick off the summer movie season, and this year, it has a surprise hit, the fourth installment of the "Bad Boys" buddy cop franchise, starring Martin Lawrence and Will Smith.


WILL SMITH: (As Mike Lowrey) These dirty cops attack our families. We not losing today.

PFEIFFER: "Bad Boys: Ride Or Die" took in more than $100 million worldwide in just its first weekend. Ronald Young Jr. hosts the "Leaving The Theater" podcast. And he's a frequent guest on NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour. Hi, Ronald.

RONALD YOUNG JR: Hello, Sacha. I'm glad to be here.

PFEIFFER: I'm glad to have you. So, as I understand it, this movie was not expected to be the first summer blockbuster, maybe not a blockbuster at all. What happened to the other contenders?

YOUNG: Well, it looks like - you know, "Furiosa" looked like it underperformed a bit, and I think people were expecting that one to come out of the gate a lot stronger than it did. And I think it just left room for "Bad Boys" to come in and fill the gap in a very unexpected way for some.

PFEIFFER: We mentioned that this is the fourth film in the "Bad Boys" franchise. This is action plus comedy, two buddy cops taking on corruption and drug cartels in Miami. What do you think it is about this movie or this franchise that was such a hit at the box office?

YOUNG: I mean, people love the "Bad Boys" franchise, you know? Like, "Bad Boys II" was a bona fide blockbuster hit. And I feel like with the chemistry between Martin Lawrence and Will Smith, it feels like - when the previews came out for this, there just seemed to be a gap in there and enough in the preview for people to say, I think I'll go check this one out. And it just seemed like there was enough goodwill there for the franchise itself and for these two actors together. Maybe there was a bit of a nostalgia there as well for people to get back into the theater and see what it was all about.

PFEIFFER: You think it's something about these two names, these two actors luring people in.

YOUNG: Well, they're kind of a known quantity, you know? Like, if you've seen them together - and it's kind of like a yes or no thing. Did I enjoy the last one when I watched this one again -which is funny because I saw "Bad Boys For Life," and I didn't really enjoy it that much. But it didn't really matter. As soon as I saw the preview for "Bad Boys: Ride Or Die, " I'm like, well, I'm still going to keep going. I mean, it's enjoyable. It's summer. I want to get in there. And I was pleasantly surprised. It was a lot of fun.

PFEIFFER: I don't know that I get that. Why would you go back to something if you didn't enjoy it so much previously?

YOUNG: It's hard to explain. All I can tell you is that there are 10 "Fast And Furious" movies, and people keep going back to see them every time.

PFEIFFER: So, by the way, did you actually like this movie? How would you rate it or rank it?

YOUNG: I really enjoyed it. I'm telling you I was really surprised by how much I liked it because I just had a genuinely good time. There's a scene in this movie in which the crowd cheer is the loudest I've heard since Captain America picked up Thor's hammer in "Avengers: Endgame." And, I mean, people lost their minds during that scene during "Avengers: Endgame," and the only time I've heard a crowd react like that was in this movie, "Bad Boys: Ride Or Die." There's one scene, and people will know it when they've seen it. It's very, very good in that case. I mean, it really delivers.

PFEIFFER: Will Smith, as many of our listeners will remember, was involved in a big controversy at the Oscars two years ago when he slapped Chris Rock on live television. What does it mean for Will Smith that this movie he's in this summer is doing so well?

YOUNG: I think it's obviously goodwill for Will Smith. This bodes well. I mean, I think he definitely needed a hit. In terms of Hollywood, he needed a hit. In terms of, like, the establishment, he needed a hit because it shows that he's still a bankable superstar, which, in some opinions, he always has been. But, like, Black folks love Will Smith. We love Will Smith. Like, there's little that he can do to really make us stop loving him, including slapping Chris Rock. So, in this case, like, him showing up in a movie that's fun and enjoyable - that's kind of only, like, the cherry on top of the Sunday that we were already going to enjoy anyway.

PFEIFFER: That's Ronald Young Jr., host of the podcast "Leaving The Theater." Ronald, thank you.

YOUNG: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Jordan-Marie Smith
Jordan-Marie Smith is a producer with NPR's All Things Considered.
William Troop
William Troop is a supervising editor at All Things Considered. He works closely with everyone on the ATC team to plan, produce and edit shows 7 days a week. During his 30+ years in public radio, he has worked at NPR, at member station WAMU in Washington, and at The World, the international news program produced at station GBH in Boston. Troop was born in Mexico, to Mexican and Nicaraguan parents. He spent most of his childhood in Italy, where he picked up a passion for soccer that he still nurtures today. He speaks Spanish and Italian fluently, and is always curious to learn just how interconnected we all are.
Sacha Pfeiffer is a correspondent for NPR's Investigations team and an occasional guest host for some of NPR's national shows.