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NO AMOUNT of time gone by can make funny an unfunny movie that is transparently -- laughably so -- based on a truly funny movie.

Even with fruit-fly-life-span memories, audiences will know they've seen this before. Except, well, funnier. Or maybe the makers of "Blue Streak" are counting on a new batch of moviegoers, kids who haven't seen "Beverly Hills Cop" on cable or on video countless times. Kids not plugged into the multi-outleted electronic universe. Kids who live under a rock. Amish kids, perhaps.

Only then could "Blue Streak" be seen as anything but the missed opportunity it is.

Martin Lawrence, playing jewel thief Miles Logan, gets to pretend to be a cop. A crazy, seat-of-his-pants cop who breaks cases wide open with his intimate knowledge of the streets. A role any former stand-up comedian would kill for.

The plot is patently simple. About to be nabbed, Miles hides a stolen $17 million diamond in an air conditioning vent. When he gets out of the joint he goes back for it. But the building is now -- get this -- a police station.

So what would (did) Eddie Murphy do? Find a way to slither in as a cop, do impressions, characters and other bits he has perfected over the years, and solve the crime brilliantly.

Did Lawrence run out of gags after he did the bucktoothed pizza delivery guy who takes up most of the movie's trailer? Where's all the crazy, seat-of-the-pants comedy he has been perfecting?

Luke Wilson plays the Judge Reinhold character, aw-shucks Officer Carlson. But Reinhold got to watch Murphy riff and run rampant. Wilson spends huge, dead chunks of time with a constipated look on his face waiting for the punch line. Left on the cutting room floor, I'm sure: Wilson telling Lawrence through clenched teeth, "Say something funny, man."

Of course, maybe writers Michael Berry, John Blumenthal and Steve Carpenter and director Les Mayfield ("Encino Man," "Flubber") consider "Beverly Hills Cop" such a classic, they didn't even try to be as good.

Blue Streak

Rating: *
Martin Lawrence, left, in a police station. Les Mayfield directs.

Rated R, opens Friday in area theaters.

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