Category Archives: bringing down the house
BRINGING DOWN THE RACES
A Film Review of Bringing Down the House
Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker
While there are a lot of good things about this film I left the theatre with a bad taste in my mouth. It was chock full of black folks/white folks humor and racial stereotypes that might have worked in the 1970s but feel distinctly out of place in the 21st century. I think it was best said by Steve Buscemi in Ghost World – that racism now and racism then are exactly the same it was just more out in the open then which I guess really means we’re better at hiding it now.
It’s wonderful to see Steve Martin doing physical comedy again. It seems like it’s been forever and a million bad movies since the days of the original “Saturday Night Live” and The Jerk. Great to have him back, age and numerous bad scripts haven’t diluted his comedic talent.
Queen Latifah is as good as ever although it must be said this is the worst I’ve seen her. Watching her tap and shuffle for a joke is disturbing at times almost as bad as Eugene Levy (“Second City TV”) and Steve Martin playin’ homies. A hilarious yet racially motivated bathroom catfight between Latifah and Missi Pyle (who I absolutely loved in Josie and the Pussycats) early on in the film should have been a sign of things to come.
Michael Rosenbaum (Lex Luthor of “Smallville”) also does a nice turn as a back-stabbing ass-kissing lawyer (is there any of kind?). Check out his rug. Betty White is also a delight. I hated her on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “Golden Girls” but here and Lake Placid she shines. I guess she ages well. And when the story turns decidedly dark and serious toward the end Eugene Levy’s witty presence is all that saves it.
Quite a bit of the plot however made me think I was watching an old episode of “Bewitched.” We had Betty White as the snooping and disapproving neighbor as well as Steve Martin constantly on the run to keep a client on the run from his not-so-normal home life. Come to think of it Latifah did perform some miracles that nose-twitching might have been required.
Disturbing racism aside it’s a pretty predictable Disney family film in the spirit of The Kid and The Princess Diaries. Yep, Disney. I think of things like Priest and Powder (let’s not even mention Kids, oops, already did) and lighter fare like this and I get the feeling sometimes that old Walt is in a perpetual spin in his cryogenic chamber. I laughed a few times but I wished I hadn’t afterwards.