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Peter Sanderson (Steve Martin) is a divorced attorney who still loves his ex-wife and can’t figure out what he did wrong to make her leave him. Trying to move on, Peter meets ‘lawyer-girl’ on the internet, but she turns out to be a surprise package called Charlene (Queen Latifah), a prison escapee who’s proclaiming her innocence and wants Peter to help clear her name. Peter wants nothing to do with her, prompting the loud and shocking Charlene to turn Peter’s perfectly ordered life upside down, jeopardizing his effort to get back with his wife and woo a billion dollar client (Joan Plowright). 

Review by Louise Keller:
A cross between You’ve Got Mail and Housesitter, Bringing Down the House is an escapist comedy with a few priceless moments, but just too few. Much of the script is disjointed nonsense and the storyline doesn’t quite gel. Nevertheless, I did enjoy watching Steve Martin’s madcap delivery, and although much of Queen Latifah’s character is half baked, her performance is wonderful. 

These two are pros with impeccable comic timing and even when the situation is totally unbelievable, they somehow make it worth watching. Jason Filardi’s script is a mix of great off-the-wall ideas that are often thrown together for laughs, rather than any regard for a good storyline with funny ramifications. Joan Plowright’s straight-laced eccentric millionaire client with the French bulldog is a delight; so is the rap music club scene when she gets stoned. But you won’t be able to keep your eyes off William, who wears an Elizabethan collar (for his namesake Shakespeare) when out and about, or a sunshade when on the golf course. 

Eugene Levy’s presence is quirky as usual, but his character is underused and the romance between his Howie and Charlene isn’t at all believable. There’s more chemistry between Charlene and Peter; it’s as though the filmmakers are keen to tie up the storyline neatly and pair everyone off, even if they don’t actually suit each other. 

Much of the fun comes from watching the scene-stealing Latifah, who bumps and grinds, schmoozes and weedles, and generally effervesces like a huge bubbly dose of Berocca. (Listen for her rap song Do Your Thing, which has as much energy and oomph as the diva herself). What a great wardrobe for an ex-felon with nought but a small cloth bag to carry her possessions! She dazzles in every scene and every time we see her, she sports different hair – from short afro, to long and wispy, sleek and long, short and funky. Her eye-popping figure is a sight to behold, and Latifah uses every inch of her ample frame to best advantage: it takes quite a bosom to be able to conceal a mobile phone without it being discovered! 

There are one liners, racist references (wait until you see Latifah pretending to be a maid from the South), some slapstick and plenty of showy business. It may not be the hilarious outing it aspires to be, but it’s a reasonable dose of fun. Especially if you like Martin and Latifah. 

There’s a small package of DVD extras, including Queen Latifah’s music video ‘Better Than the Rest’, an audio commentary and two features.

Published December 25, 2003

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CAST: Steve Martin, Queen Latifah, Eugene Levy, Joan Plowright, Jean Smart

DIRECTOR: Adam Shankman

SCRIPT: Jason Filardi

RUNNING TIME: 105 minutes

PRESENTATION: Dolby Digital 2.0 and 5.1; Widescreen; aspect Ratio 2.35:1; Subtitle Languages English, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, Arabic ; Audio Languages 5.1 English, 2.0 English RNIB, 5.1 Spanish, 5.1 Portuguese, 5.1 Russian

SPECIAL FEATURES: The Godfather of Hop; Queen Latifah Music Video "Better Than The Rest"; Audio Commentary; Deleted Scenes; Gag Reel


DVD RELEASE: (Rental) December 10, 2003

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