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Bringing Down the House (2003)
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Review Date: February 04, 2003
Director: Adam Shankman
Writer: Jason Filardi
Producers: Ashok Armitraj
Actors:
Steve Martin
Queen Latifah
Eugene Levy
Plot:
A divorced older white man meets a fast-talking, sexy black woman on the Internet who proceeds to semi-blackmail him into helping her prove her innocence in a false arrest charge. The man wants nothing to do with her, but it isn't long before she wins him over and starts helping his kids as well. Misunderstandings, a recycle storyline and plenty of black and white jokes...ensue.
Critique:
Yet another film created for the lowest common denominator in all of us, this flick is ready to please anyone who doesn't ask for too much from their comedies including plot, originality, hilarity or any sense of political/stereotypical correctness. I personally don't mind any movie tackling some of the less "politically correct" points of view, but when an entire picture is based around stereotypes of all types, namely white WASP men who work too much and ignore their families, black women who have big asses and love to talk about "getting freaky", older white women who still refer to all African-Americans as "negroes" and think all Latin-Americans are gardeners and black guys who are all either gangstas or friends of "the herb", you gotta step back for a second and wonder what the "dillio" really is. It goes without saying that if you don't dig on stereotypes, stay faaaaaaaaaaaar away from this movie. I'm actually a little surprised that Queen Latifah is not only starring in this generic vehicle, but she actually exec produced it as well! What's up with that, girlfriend? How about moving past all this typical bam-bam shoot 'em up shit and showing the brothers (and sisters) in a better light, yo? Anyhoo, for anyone who's not as stuck up as me on crap like that, I guess you might get some very easy laughs out of this film (especially if you thought the trailer was funny-which I didn't, but others seem to) and maybe even some lessons on how "not to judge a book by its cover". Yawn. If you're looking for a story, on the other hand, this one-note presentation is not for you since the only thing hooking the "fish out of water" scenes together here is some ditty about a rich ol' lady who wants to do business with the "white" lawyer, but is very tightass in her ways, etc and so forth.

Laughs are supposed to ensue, but to be completely honest...I might've giggled twice during this entire picture (but as I always say: comedies are subjective). Once was for the always humorous Eugene Levy, who seems to be stealing more and more of his share of comedic scenes and the other was for the old lady "smoking weed" sequence. That was pretty funny. Other than that, you get a whole bunch of misunderstandings, the Queen talking "ebonics", Martin acting square (that is until his obvious, eventual "transformation" of course...aaaaaaaaah!) and black and white jokes galore (the words "honky", "Jemima" and "fag" are used to put the cherry on a number of apparently funny one-liners here). Most of the secondary characters in the film are also very boring, especially the useless auntie character who apparently sleeps with older men for their money. Take the kids, mom and dad...it's Disney! All in all, not much to recommend but not entirely devoid of charm either, especially from Latifah, who impressed me in CHICAGO once and certainly shows that she had the chops to be a sexy lead in a romantic comedy here as well. Unfortunately for her, the script blows like a monkey's uncle and the story is about as dreary as my personal social calendar these days. Just thank your lucky stars that they didn't keep the film's original title of IN THE HOUZE. Ugh. Don't kids have enough trouble learning the friggin' English language nowadays? Call me square but that shit's whack, dog... :) Note: Director Adam Shankman apparently wants to be crowned as the official king of all generic flicks with his last two "masterpieces" being A WALK TO REMEMBER and THE WEDDING PLANNER.
(c) 2016 Berge Garabedian

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