Will Smith’s Bad Boys 4 Scene: Repeated Slaps Allude to Oscars Controversy

Will Smith’s character Mike Lowrey in Bad Boys 4: Ride or Die, is constantly smacked around by Marcus Burnett, played by Martin Lawrence.

This seems to be a reference to Smith’s controversial Oscars performance from two years prior, when he came onstage and gave Chris Rock a face-slap in front of a global audience.

Will Smith's Bad Boys 4 Scene: Repeated Slaps Allude to Oscars Controversy

During the climactic action sequence, Mike played by Smith is in the middle of a panic attack when Marcus, played by Lawrence, his colleague in the investigation, slaps him many times to calm him down.

Audiences at early screenings seemed to associate the humorous scene with the Oscars slap, as heard from their vocal reactions.

Owen Gleiberman, reporter from Variety, called the scene “a kind of pop exorcism” and called it a “direct reference” to the Oscars moment in his review. He states: “It’s ‘punishing’ Smith, making cruel fun of his transgression, and just maybe, in the process, allowing him to crawl out from under the image of it.”

Nick Schager, a Daily Beast reviewer, referenced the scene in his article, calling it a “tasteless nod to The Slap meant to rehab Smith’s image.”

Schager commented that the “late meta joke about Smith’s Oscar scandal proves a predictable bit of self-consciousness and does less to enliven the proceedings than merely fulfill expectations.”

Smith, 55, has expressed regret for the Oscars incident and called his actions that day as “unacceptable.” The actor withdrew from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which barred him from attending future events for a decade.

Will Smith and Martin Lawrence on the set of Bay Boys 4

“Bad Boys: Ride or Die,” the most recent entry in a nearly three-decade-old franchise, opens nationwide on Friday. The film industry will be attentively observing its response to see whether or not the general public is prepared to accept Smith’s return following the Slap, an incident so humiliating and horrifying that it attained proper-noun status.

The Slap has not been mentioned much in Smith’s pre-release promotional push, whether on purpose or by consent. Critics have pointed out that the movie itself appears to make an indirect reference to it: Martin Lawrence, Smith’s co-star, slaps him in it and refers to him as a “bad boy.”

Smith was lauded by Lawrence when they both appeared on “The Tonight Show.” He declared, “He is one of the most gifted and professional actors there is; he is also honest, intelligent, and a genius.”

Smith made a smart choice, according to certain critics, in appealing to nostalgia with his comeback.

The former head of the public relations firm Golin and a professor at the University of Southern California, Fred Cook, stated, “It was smart to make a movie that’s part of a franchise, that people are familiar with, and his audience, his core fans, would like.”

Veteran crisis and communications expert Joe Quenqua stated, “There are few people in this industry who were as beloved as Will Smith prior to this incident.”

Directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, who also directed 2020’s Bad Boys for Life sequel, recently told UNILAD that the screenplay was still developing in the aftermath of the Oscars slap and that real events impacted the plot of the most recent edition.

“It had to have something, because the movie itself touches on a real-life connection and story,”
they further said.
Bad Boys: Ride or Die opens in cinemas on June 7.

Will Smith and Oscars Controversy:

Smith was about to earn his first Academy Award for playing the father and tennis coach of Venus and Serena Williams in the film “King Richard,” which looked to be setting him up for career success on the night of the Slap.

Millions of people witnessed what occurred next on live television. The comedian hosting the Oscars, Chris Rock, made light of Jada Pinkett Smith’s short hairstyle after she revealed that she had been diagnosed with alopecia. Sitting next to her, Will Smith approached Rock, gave him a hard smack on the face, and then, when he got back in his chair, said, “Keep my wife’s name out of your mouth,” using a foul language that ABC bleeped out of the broadcast.

Smith apologized in a statement and left the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences a few days later. Ten years later, the Academy forbade him from ever again attending the Oscars. “Emancipation,” his next film, which was supposed to be a $120-million, Oscar-season favorite, was released to a muted reception. Following that, Pinkett Smith’s memoir was published, disclosing that the pair had split up in 2016.

Smith’s spokesperson declined to comment for this story. When asked about “Bad Boys: Ride or Die,” a representative for Sony, which is both producing and distributing the film, did not answer.

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