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August 01, 2006

Movie Review: Miami Vice

Here's the concept: take everything that was great about Miami Vice, a popular TV show from the 80's, and set it in present day Miami. It's a solid concept, with only one notable flaw. In order to illustrate this flaw, allow me to list all the good qualities of original series:

List of things that were awesome about Miami Vice, the TV Show:

Sex
Violence
Synth-tastic Theme Song
Retro-80s-Flavor

Looking over this list, a few things become clear. First of all: sex and violence are just as awesome today as they were circa 1984, when the show debuted. Especially violence -- though you wouldn't know it looking at the current roster of network crime dramas. Despite the endless protestations of "cultural critics", cop shows of the 80s were far more violent than current franchises such as CSI. In my opinion, this is a crying shame. Honestly, what would you prefer to see? A team of Science Cops who build a case against criminals by meticulously gathering and analyzing physical evidence... or two badass hombres who chase down criminals in fast cars and then SHOOT THEM IN THE FACE. I like to see bodily fluids on TV as much as the next guy, but I prefer seeing them fresh - streaming out of the bullet-ridden torso of a drug dealer. Watching those same fluids get scraped off the wall and into a sample jar hours after the fact just doesn't do it for me.

However, Hollywood doesn't need to license some dusty old cop show just to cram a movie full of lurid sex and brutal violence. Obviously. Anyway, it's much cheaper to license video games for this purpose. Just ask Uwe Boll.

So if sex and violence alone aren't enough to justify making a feature film from Miami Vice, what does that leave? There's Jan Hammer's classic theme song... but that's not actually featured in the movie.

A missed opportunity, if you ask me, but I respect their decision. Replacing a classic musical theme with random hip hop tracks that 2nd rate rappers didn't think were good enough to put on their own albums seems like a winning strategy. Seriously.

Without the theme song, there's only one thing left: Retro-80s-Flavor. Miami Vice, the TV show, was a super-concentrated dose of 80s culture. The clothes, the drugs, the hairstyles... the drugs -- all Totally 80s. In fact, Miami Vice is so 80's, watching reruns today makes me wonder if the program was even filmed on this planet. There's an alien quality to it... sort of an Alternate Reality thing going on. The show is practically Science Fiction. For instance, in one of my favorite episodes, Don Johnson goes undercover to infiltrate a gang of white supremacists. In doing so, he approaches the gang wearing a pink sportcoat -- and they welcome him with open and very racist arms! In what universe do white supremacists wear pastels? Not this one, that's for sure. Miami Vice was set in some sort of hyper-80s parallel universe... and that's why we love it.

Miami Vice, the motion picture, is set in present day Miami. As such, it's just another cop movie, just another old TV show turned into a mediocre film property. Though the film does include visual references to the original show, the effect is banal and disappointing. Therefore, I award it only three Joeys... and they're not even pastel.

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Posted by Joey at August 1, 2006 10:31 PM

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