The Queen and I
Bringin' Down the House
Review by Ross Anthony

"You think you know somebody, then you wake up in Thailand with a kidney missing."

Initially, an overtly cartoon score backs a sophomoric, ridiculous introduction. The first ten minutes being tediously "set up and punch," I'd begun this review in my head, something like: "I'm a huge fan of Steve Martin. His earlier work contains some of the best comedy known to mankind, BUT..." and then I'd planned to appeal to his sense of responsibility towards his viewers when picking material. BUT, fortunately, the film actually stutters and sparks into some very funny sequences. Never quite shaking itself out of the ridiculous, the picture nonetheless finds a way to almost become endearing as well.

You may have notice that I mentioned Steve's "earlier work." The implication being, he's gradually become less funny with age. Unfortunately, I think there's some truth in that. But, (and not that this is the greatest film), he seems to have re-found some of his own earlier humor here. He just appears to be having more fun on screen than I've seen him in a while. That's good -- he's a very funny man.

And while Queen Latifah is a fine cast, her chops here aren't quite as sharp. She's still, fun, strong, and instigates a completely hilarious ladies'-room fight scene that will have you in stitches. Good performances by all the others as well with Eugene Levy as the even stiffer white guy bustin' his rhymes for Latifah. He always cracks me up; if you like him too, go see the "American Pie" films.

The plot? Divorced White Lawyer (Martin) meets Black ex-con (Latifah) on the internet. She claims to be white and later ... innocent and in need of his legal services to prove it. He's in the midst of courting a major client and just wants her gone. Little does he know ... he needs something from her too. Much of the humor is based on the culture clash.

Queen Latifah: "There are a lot of controversial jokes in the film and we'd go back and forth figuring out what was offensive, what was funny, and what was offensive but funny enough to get over-the-top."

  • Bringin' Down the House. Copyright © 2003. PG-13.
  • Starring Steve Martin, Queen Latifah, Eugene Levy, Joan Plowright, Jean Smart, Kimberly J. Brown.
  • Directed by Adam Shankman.
  • Screenplay by Jason Filardi.
  • Produced by David Hoberman, Ashok Amritraj at Touchstone.


Copyright © 2001. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit:

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:19:35 PDT