Published Oct 01, 2004After the occasionally funny Bringing Down The House with Steve Martin, Queen Latifah returns with another odd-couple comedy, Taxi, co-starring SNLer Jimmy Fallon. Fallon plays officer Washburn of New York's finest. He's a bumbling, lovable cop who couldn't drive to save his drunk mother's life (finely played by Ann Margaret).
After Washburn bulldozes Manhattan during an over-the-top car chase (picture a scrap heap on Fifth Avenue) and winds up on the front page of The New York Post, his boss and ex-flame, Lt. Marta Robbins (the brilliantly underrated Jennifer Esposito), takes away his car keys. Problem is, Washburn is trying to capture some bank robbers who are tooling around in a red BMW. Enter Latifah as Belle, driving Manhattan's most souped-up cab and chasing them through the streets as if it were the Grand Prix. The bad guys turn out to be hot chicks (headed by supermodel Gisele Bundchen), while Latifah and Fallon become friends (but not interracial lovers).
Taxi is marginally better than Latifah's last comedic vehicle. Her performance is more assured and less cocky. She mixes well with Fallon, who finally heads a feature film and fleshes out a one-dimensional character. In fact, Fallon's talents exceed the clownish Washburn and are not exploited to their fullest here. (See his cameo in Almost Famous instead.) The supporting cast of Esposito and Ann Margaret are strong, while the supermodel bad "guys" are mere eye candy. The script predictably alternates between laughs and car crashes, which quickly look like a videogame.
There's nothing special about Taxi but nothing terrible about it either. It's a middle-of-the-road comedy with some laughs, some clunkers and a lot of fast cars driven by two likable stars. (Fox)