Bringing Down the House
There have been
odder pairings in movie history than Steve Martin and Queen Latifah, but I
cant think of any off the top of my head. Good for them for thinking of
it, because they work together like a charm. Martin plays Peter Sanderson,
the whitest, most buttoned-down attorney ever. Devastated by his wife
leaving him, he tries to find solace in an internet chat room for lawyers.
He meets Charlene Morton online and decides to attempt a date for the first
time since becoming newly single. Not surprisingly, Martin assumes that the
woman he is talking to is the WASP goddess in the foreground of the picture,
not the yelling black prisoner in the background. So he is shocked when he
opens the door and finds buxom mama Queen Latifah on the other side.
tries to get rid of her immediately, but she refuses to go until he works
with her to get her record expunged. Whenever Martin denies her, Latifah
goes out of her way to embarrass him in front of his
uptight acquaintances, which always gets him back
in line for her. As
they get to know each other, they gain a grudging respect for each other,
and then an actual friendship is born.
Martin is superb in his goofy
mode as a man finally coming to grips with his feeling and his own body.
The part is a wonderfully physical one for Martin, reminiscent of some of
his early roles like
All Of Me
and The Man
With Two Brains.
You can literally see the repression trying to make its way out of his body,
it is a slapstick tour de force. Latifah is fantastic as a woman who has a
chameleon-like ability be any type of person for any different situation.
Between this film and her recent stand-out supporting role in
Latifahs acting career
which has been up and down to be charitable
like it will finally take off.
Eugene Levy is hysterical as Martins best
friend, who likes that brown sugar and a little bounce in his booty and
falls for Latifah hard. The other supporting roles are less impressive. Dame Joan Plowright is kind of wasted as a dowdy old rich southern belle who is still
nostalgic for the Jim Crow days. Steve Harris (who is so electric in
is given the role of a generic gang-banger. Betty White seems to be
channeling Mrs. Kravitz, the nosy neighbor from
if Mrs. Kravitz was a bigot. Missi Pyle is totally degraded as a
gold-digging sister-in-law, particularly in a startlingly misjudged catfight
Surprisingly for a movie made by such clever people and with
such good intentions, it does trade in certain racial stereotypes; all the
whites in this film are repressed, out of touch with their feelings and just
a little (or a lot) bigoted and all the blacks are bordering on criminals.
That is taking the film a lot too seriously, though,
Bringing Down the House
is meant to be a good-hearted romp where two very different people learn to
like and respect each other. In this context, the film
is a complete success.
©2003 PopEntertainment.com All rights reserved.
Posted: March 30, 2003.