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Bringing Down The House /

Rated: PG-13
Starring: Queen Latifah, Steve Martin, Eugene Levy, Joan Plowright, Missi Pyle
Directed by: Adam Shankman
Produced by: Ashok Amritraj, David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman
Written by: Jason Filardi

Distributor: Touchtone Pictures


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Movie Image
Movie Image

     All I can say is, thank goodness for Steve Martin and Queen Latifah, because without them, Bringing Down the House wouldn’t have anything. The writing is predictable and formulaic, the direction is blatantly lifeless, and the production is just dreadful. Possessing all of these negative qualities, it would seem nearly impossible for this film to appear at all humane. But thanks to the chemistry of comic geniuses Martin and Latifah, viewers won’t be pained by what’s happening onscreen. I, myself, was pleasantly surprised at the easy-going mood. But, sometimes, there just aren’t enough good features in a bad movie to save it from a negative rating.

     Peter Sanderson (Steve Martin) is a business-man, who has everything, except love. His ex-wife, Kate Sanderson (Jean Smart), left him because of the dedication he had towards his work, and ignorance towards the family. The film opens up to Sanderson, chatting on the internet, with a woman who goes by “lawyer girl.” Being a tax attorney himself, he helps her find solutions to typical legal troubles. When the two begin to get to know each other even more, Peter invites “lawyer girl” over for champagne. But when his doorbell rings, and he opens the door, comes a giant surprise. Instead of a sleek, sexy, and charming blonde, walks in an over-weight, beat-up, African American woman. Her name is Charlene (Queen Latifah). She is an ex-convict, who comes with a proposition. Charlene vows to herself, to not leave Peter’s life, until he expunges her record of crime. She claims that she is innocent, but by her cover, this is hard to believe.

     Queen Latifah, who is a great actress, had never been in a lead role, before this movie. With an Oscar nomination for Chicago, she has nothing to hide, but pure excellence. In Bringing Down the House, she steals the show from every other great performer in the cast. Latifah is always bold and daring in each of her roles, which are never a bit low-key. Charlene is somewhat of a helpless character, but is always able to light up each scene with something huge. Whether this be big laughs laughs, shocking thrills, or a charismatic screen presence; Latifah is always at the top of her game. Despite the bad script, Charlene is just interesting enough, for Latifah’s talents to work with. This film is proof, in vein, that comedic actors don’t need just good jokes to be funny.

     Steve Martin isn’t at his best in Bringing Down the House, but his performance is, nothing short of hilarious. He is one, unlike Latifah, to either work with a script, or completely improvise. In movies, directors usually make their actors abide by the script, which Adam Shankman obviously does with Martin (see what I mean when I say “blatantly lifeless direction?”). This disables him from being at the top of his form. But, regardless, his character does bring quite a few laughs. While the funniest crack is spoiled by the trailer, this film is definitely worth seeing when it hits the market for DVD and home video for the others. Even though Mr. Martin is, at times, hilarious in this film, it seems as though he should stop acting, while he’s ahead. Despite solid performances in his last three films, each and every one of them has been part of a mediocre motion picture.

     With its own fair share of laughs, Bringing Down the House is sporadically entertaining, but never sparks. Personally, I would expect better from Martin, though, don’t get me wrong, he is very good. Latifah is definitely the strong suit of the film, and glows in every scene that she is in. The direction is terrible, and the production is pitiful; and this is for certain. With cons that slightly outweigh its pros, this is a film that I would recommend ignoring, for the next few months, until it reaches a DVD release date. There are definitely some terrible factors in this film, which will distract viewers immensely. Technicalities are one thing, but the most noticeable flaw to the naked eye is predictability. As I’ve said, what drags this film down is the depravedly, low-brow script.

-Danny, Bucket Reviews


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