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Bringing Down The House

Adam Shankman

Bringing Down The House
Uptight, ultra-white bread tax attorney Peter (a perfectly cast Steve Martin) arranges a chat-room date with a hot blonde. Instead, black soul sistah Charlene (a sassy Queen Latifah) shows up. Peter tries to get rid of Charlene, but she clings to him, eventually infiltrating his home, family, business and eventually, his heart. In turn, Peter counsels Charlene on some trumped-up robbery charges until he learns she's wanted by the FBI. Believable? No. Funny? Occasionally. The characters are one-dimensional. The story is predictable, based on an old Hollywood formula: pair two characters from totally different ethnic backgrounds and crank out the laughs (Jackie Chan and Chris Rock's Rush Hour). The saving grace is the superb comic cast from Martin on down who raise this clichéd script and by-the-numbers direction up half-a-notch. Martin perfected the white boy bruthah act in 1979's The Jerk and revives it in all its Wonder Bread glory. To her credit, Latifah holds up well against Martin, while Eugene Levy almost steals the show as a repressed tax lawyer drooling over Charlene. Joan Plowright's elitist English widow and Betty White's redneck neighbour are well-performed, but they are really one character split into two. Meanwhile, the superb Jean Smart is criminally underused. I have a feeling, though, that we'll see her and the rest of the cast again in the inevitable sequel (God help us). For the extras we are given an EPK disguised as a behind-the-scenes doc, a Queen Latifah music vid, outtakes, a brief gag reel and director-and-writer commentary, which amounts to fluff. Forget all that and check out "The Godfather of Hop" pseudo-doc, spotlighting Eugene Levy as the badass "king of hip-hop." Extras: deleted scenes; commentary; featurettes; more. (Buena Vista)

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