Bringing Down The House

"Weak"

Bringing Down The House Review


Toothlessly trite and inundated with a relentlessly chirpy elevator-music score, "Bringing Down the House" is a ghetto-woman-in-the-ritzy-white-suburbs culture-clash comedy sanitized to oblige the same middle-aged white folks that are the butts of most of its jokes.

It's about an uptight, overworked, miserably divorced tax attorney (a hammy yet vanilla Steve Martin) whose life is turned upside down when a woman he'd flirted with in a legal-forum online chatroom turns up on his doorstep for a date not looking anything like the sophisticated, young white lawyer she'd pretended to be. She is, in fact, a feisty, girthy, street-smart spitfire straight outta Compton (and played with relish by Queen Latifah) who has just escaped from prison and wants Martin's help proving her innocence on an erroneous armed robbery charge.

The movie would have little plot if these two didn't spend the next five reels trying to hoodwink Martin's neighbors and law partners into thinking the loud-and-proud Latifah is a nanny or a maid -- telling lie on top of outrageous lie when a simple variation on the truth ("She's an acquaintance that I'm helping with a case") would have sufficed.

First-time screenwriter Jason Filardi concocts some flimsy excuse for Latifah to move in with Martin (so she can bond with his kids and help him chill out) and stretches, stretches, s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-s the premise to imply that Martin's job and a contract with a haughty rich client (Joan Plowright) will be in jeopardy if anyone finds out.

The film's idea of being risqué, you see, is to make Martin's neighbors and law partners -- and most other white characters -- cartoonishly racist. ("If they're in this neighborhood and not carrying a leaf blower...," sniffs Betty White, as the busybody old broad across the street.)

Directed by Adam Shankman (helmer of the contemptible Jennifer Lopez romantic comedy "The Wedding Planner"), "Bringing Down the House" does manage to scrounge up a few comedic gems. Nebbishy Eugene Levy is a hoot as Martin's best friend who has the hots for Latifah, declaring his love in hilarious white-guy attempts at street slang ("You got me straight trippin', boo!").

After proving herself a show-stopping diva in "Chicago" (to the tune of a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination), here Latifah proves herself also to be a natural comedienne with a magnetic, pugnacious downtown attitude. Her fisticuffs with a catty WASP in a country club locker room is the flick's funniest scene -- until it turns into sloppy slapstick with the other woman doing ridiculous aerobics-class dances every time she lands a punch.

Martin has his moments too. In fact, a couple scenes hark back to his cutting-edge comedy pinnacle as a wild and crazy guy. But Shankman fails to recognize a good thing when he sees it and puts his comic emphases in all the wrong places. Steve Martin doing pelvic thrusts with avocados down the front of his pants is funny. Steve Martin trying to pass for a gansta at a South Central nightclub, not so much.

Between its predictable, telegraphed laughs and its autopilot plot (Martin wins back his ex-wife not because of anything he says or does, but just because it's happy-ending time), "House" is an unfortunate but inevitable failure. The only good to come of it will be that it should substantiate the talented and appealing Queen Latifah's acting career.



Bringing Down The House

Facts and Figures

Run time: 105 mins

In Theaters: Friday 7th March 2003

Box Office USA: $132.5M

Box Office Worldwide: $132.7M

Budget: $20M

Distributed by: Touchstone Pictures

Production compaines: Touchstone Pictures, Hyde Park Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 34%
Fresh: 50 Rotten: 98

IMDB: 5.5 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Peter Sanderson, as Charlene Morton, as Howie Rottman, as Virginia Arness, as Kate Sanderson, as Sarah Sanderson, as Ashley, as Georgey Sanderson, as Todd Gendler, as Mrs. Kline, as Widow, as Ed Tobias, Aengus James as Mike, Jernard Burks as Widow's Bodyguard, Bronzell Miller as Widow's Bodyguard, Michael Ensign as Daniel Barnes

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

The Edge of Seventeen Movie Review

The Edge of Seventeen Movie Review

An unusually realistic teen movie, this drama gets deep under the skin of its characters,...

Bleed for This Movie Review

Bleed for This Movie Review

This is such a ripping true story that it can't help but grab hold of...

Moana Movie Review

Moana Movie Review

In a clear echo of Frozen, this Disney animated adventure centres on a fiercely independent...

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

Bad Santa 2 Movie Review

The 2003 comedy Bad Santa is a holiday classic that skilfully mixes gross-out humour with...

Allied Movie Review

Allied Movie Review

There's a terrific script at the heart of this World War II thriller, with a...

A United Kingdom Movie Review

A United Kingdom Movie Review

Based on a powerful true story from the late 1940s, this drama is packed with...

Indignation Movie Review

Indignation Movie Review

Philip Roth's layered novels are a challenge for filmmakers (see also 2003's The Human Stain...

Advertisement
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Movie Review

It's been five years since the last Harry Potter movie, and J.K. Rowling has been...

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Dog Eat Dog Movie Review

Yet another bonkers thriller starring Nicolas Cage, this trashy crime comedy comes from director Paul...

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall Movie Review

"Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression: Live At The Royal Albert Hall" is a DVD...

Arrival Movie Review

Arrival Movie Review

This sci-fi drama has an enjoyably brain-bending plot that leaves the audience almost stunned with...

Elle Movie Review

Elle Movie Review

There's a boldly comical tone to this outrageous thriller that can't help but unnerve audiences...

100 Streets Movie Review

100 Streets Movie Review

A multi-strand drama set in London, this film is very nicely shot and acted, but...

Nocturnal Animals Movie Review

Nocturnal Animals Movie Review

It's been seven years since designer Tom Ford made a splash with his award-winning writing-directing...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.