Bringing Down the House
3 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
bringing down the house This is one of those comedies that's far more enjoyable than it has any right to be, due to the charismatic performances of its central cast. Peter (Martin) is a tax lawyer with two bright kids (Brown and Jones) he's taking care of while his ex-wife (Smart) goes on holiday. He's just met a new woman in an online legal chatroom, but on their first date he finds out that Charlene (Latifah) has rather misrepresented herself. She's hardly a thin blonde lawyer; rather she's a big, black, streetwise ex-con trying to re-open her case and clear her name. Of course, she turns Peter's well-ordered life upside down, jeopardizing his big client (Plowright) and causing a stir with the neighbours ... and everyone else.

There's plenty of smart comedy here, but the filmmakers are unable to resist dumb slapstick and unnecessarily zany side stories. The humiliations of racial stereotypes can be both funny and telling, but not when taken to these ludicrous extremes. It just gets eye-rollingly silly, which isn't really a surprise from the guy who directed the dire The Wedding Planner and the even worse A Walk to Remember. And some of the peripheral characters are painful stereotypes, such as White's nosy neighbour, Harris' brutal gangsta and, worst of all, Pyle's slutty ex-sister-in-law (who at least provides the screen's most screamingly funny catfight since the glory days of Dynasty's Krystal and Alexis). No, what makes the film work is the genius comic timing of Martin, Latifah and Levy, performers unafraid to go over the top for a laugh while keeping their characters rooted firmly on the ground. They're so much fun to watch that we find ourselves ignoring the film's overall lameness. And as a result, this somehow becomes one of the funniest, most endearing films in recent memory.

cert 12 themes, language, vulgarity 14.Mar.03

dir Adam Shankman
scr Jason Filardi
with Steve Martin, Queen Latifah, Eugene Levy, Joan Plowright, Jean Smart, Missi Pyle, Kimberly J Brown, Angus T Jones, Betty White, Michael Rosenbaum, Steve Harris, Victor Webster
release US 7.Mar.03; UK 30.May.03
03/US 1h45

Preach it, Mama! Charlene stirs up life for both Peter and his law partner Howie (Martin, Latifah, Levy)...

martin latifah levy
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R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... bringing down the house Laurie T, Minneapolis: "I wanted to laugh, needed to laugh - with all the war news and such - and this movie delivered the laughs. I guesss that is all I need to say about it. It is silly, doesn't pretend to be anything else, but I think it will make you laugh." [2.Apr.03]

Robin Morgan, prince Edward island: 5/5 "i think it is incredable movie i ever seen before by the time Queen latifah is innocent and she is greatest actress and a rapper of all times she is awsome person in my heart she is filled with love and passion in her heart and soul i believe what she is innocent and more loveable women she is i think Queen latifah should be out from jail she did not do anything wrong she is depressed and hurt lately because she needs someone special in her life that she wanted to have Queen latifah learn her lesson whats she did but she earn her mistakes but i think she needs love and courage let Queen latifah go does she hurt enough i believe in her and she is innocent i know the fact she is hurting and more to love, i love this movie is the way she is not violent or criminal she is a person with feelings." [29.Dec.06]

2003 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall