R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Tim Story
scr Robert Ben Garant, Thomas Lennon, Jim Kouf
with Queen Latifah, Jimmy Fallon, Jennifer Esposito, Henry Simmons, Gisele Bundchen, Ann-Margret, Ingrid Vandebosch, Magali Amadei, Christian Kane, Ana Cristina De Oliveira, Adrian Martinez, Boris McGiver
release US 8.Oct.04, UK 19.Nov.04
04/US 1h37

Shut up, just shut up: Latifah and Fallon

latifah fallon esposito
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taxi Luc Besson's original Taxi (1999) was pretty silly, but this Americanised (and gender scrambled) remake is off the scales. Nothing really works here, from the ludicrous traffic choreography to the deeply irritating Fallon. The only thing watchable is the always-wonderful Latifah!

Washburn (Fallon) is a loser New York cop who can't do anything right, so when he hails a taxi driven by proud new cabbie Belle (Latifah), she's in trouble! Especially since he's chasing some bank robbers, who turn out to be ruthless Brazilian supermodels (led by Bundchen). So can Washburn convince his boss (Esposito) that he's not up to his usual reckless idiocy? And can Belle convince her boyfriend (Simmons) that she's not ignoring him? And can they both keep their jobs long enough to use Belle's souped-up cab to catch the villains?

The first problem is Fallon. Whether it's his performance or the script that's to blame we can't be sure, because Washburn is such an annoyance from start to finish. We just want him gone so we can watch Latifah, who's marvellous even in the most lamely written and directed scene imaginable. She's the only person who ever gets a laugh. But then no one is allowed to create a believable character; Esposito and Simmons at least try.

The second snag is the script in which the writers adapt what was a simple French action comedy into an overblown, ludicrous American blockbuster. They try far too hard to get each laugh, and as a result get very few indeed. It's so excruciatingly unfunny that we're embarrassed for the actors (especially poor Ann-Margret as Washburn's tipsy mother).

And the final obstacle is Story's far too-broad direction--stretching out to inflate each sight gag to such nonsensical proportions that it becomes deeply tedious. Car chases are overdone and repetitive, although they never tip into Blues Brothers hyperbole, which might have helped! The film resides in that no-go zone between slightly heightened realism and complete silliness. The middle ground is simply unworkable, leaving the audience slack-jawed at the lack of talent on screen. Except for the Queen of course! She's a star.

cert 12 themes, language, violence 14.Sep.04

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2004 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall