Peter is an uptight lawyer looking for love after his divorce. When the woman he meets online turns out to be an African American ex-con looking for legal help it couldn’t have come at a worse time. He’s got the big deal to close! Oh no! Can he close the deal (and get the girl (and learn to live and love again)) before it’s too late? Find out in… Bringing Down the House.
How?! Peter is super sad and lonely. He’s still in love with his ex-wife and continually disappoints his kids with his workaholic tendencies. If this sounds like a laugh riot, then this is the film for you! No? Well, do you like stereotypes that occasionally cross into overt racism? Yes? Great! He meets a lady online named Charlene and is super jazzed only to be crushed when she turns out to be an African American ex-con who needs him to help her clear her name. He’s ready to kick her to the curb except that she threatens to reveal to his super racist neighbors that he’s somehow adjacently involved with a black lady. Egad! What is a scared white person to do?! While he tries to deal with her, Peter also has a snooty (and racist) client that he has to close a big deal with. This all meanders about for a while with Charlene getting close to Peter’s children and helping them out with their C storylines, Peter’s coworker falling madly in lust with Charlene’s luscious curves, and eventually them all finding out that Charlene isn’t an ex-con after all… she’s an escaped convict! Everything falls apart, but Peter being the white savior that he is still tries to help out Charlene. In turn she tries to help him out by kidnapping the snooty heiress and gets her totally high on the weed (good plan). Finally Peter confronts the man who framed Charlene who admits to everything on a tape recorder. Enraged, he shoots Charlene only to have her survive thanks to a cell phone made of titanium (this is real). Having gotten high the heiress employs Peter and he gets back with his ex-wife. Jesus. This movie was straight crazytown. THE END.
Why?! Peter’s motivation is to close the big deal (but really we know the deal he really wants to close is the one that gets him back with his ex-wife). Charlene really does want to clear her name. Interestingly there is very little background provided to the audience about her crime. She mostly just says “I didn’t do it,” and then talk about trying to get her off on a technicality. Turns out she really was framed so Peter’s not a very good lawyer… which should have been obvious since he was a tax lawyer with no criminal law experience.
What?! Even the product placements were kinda stereotypical. When Charlene invited a whole bunch of friends over what is the drink of choice at the party? Olde English 800 of course. I was like “oh that’s pretty bad.” Little did I know that an old white lady would be singing a super racist spiritual only an hour later. Boy howdy.
Who?! This has two of our favorite. Alongside our leading musician-turned-actress we have Kelly Price appearing in a cameo. She is a club singer that performs when Steven Martin gets his groove on and learns to be hip. Additionally we have a credit for Linus the Dog portraying William Shakespeare. He doesn’t have any other credits on IMDb, but I think there is a strong chance he was part of the cast of a short lived show Men, Women and Dogs. I’m sure I could figure it out for sure if I tried… but I won’t.
Where?! Pretty clear this was set in Los Angeles. They started the film with a gratuitous license plate shot. Not vital to the plot or featured in any particular way, though. C+
When?! I feel like this should have been obvious since Charlene escapes from jail and that’s on the news and stuff… but alas, I couldn’t find any evidence of when this took place. Would have to guess the summer since the kids weren’t in school. F.
This film actually started with a deftly made opening about a lonely man connecting with someone online during an emotionally difficult time in his life. It’s actually pretty sweet seeing Steve Martin go about trying to figure out how to set up a date while his coworker encourages him. This then almost immediately falls apart once we enter the actual plot of the film, which at times had me holding my head in disbelief. It’s like we started at the top of a roller-coaster and almost immediately started falling towards pure craziness and offensiveness. It picked up speed all the way to a ludicrous ending that you kinda have to see to believe. The only real bright spot is an interesting and not entirely offensive bit with Eugene Levy falling in love with Charlene that turned out considerably better than it could have. Patrick?
‘Ello everyone! I tried to follow the directions in this documentary. I found a fugitive from the law, harbored her in my home, and proved she was framed all along! It was a very fulfilling experience. I am still going to prison for harboring the fugitive though … can’t really get around that. Welp, c’est la vie! Let’s go!
The Good – The first half of this film is actually quite good. The premise isn’t at ludicrous as it seems. Both Martin and Queen Latifah are in actuality quite funny. Eugene Levy’s character is a crazy caricature … but he is still great as well. It is a charming half of a film that does exactly what it wants to do in a rather … unfortunate way.
P’s View on the Preview – I mean, that is it right? There was one thing and one thing only that was interesting about this film, and that is the unfortunate and (in more recent terms) tactless way they treat Steve Martin and Queen Latifah’s relationship. It was the only interesting thing about what was either going to be a boring laugh-free comedy, or a complete trainwreck depending on how offensive it was.
The Bad – The entire second half of the film just goes off the rails. Martin is harboring a fugitive, there are several crazy scenes with the heiress being a stone cold racist and smoking weed, Betty White actually does play a stone cold racist, there is a gold digger character, there is a crazy dance scene in a club. It is just crazy. Also … the titanium cellphone might as well be its own character. It has an entire arc, with Peter getting his other cellphone destroyed, him compulsively plugging it in at home constantly, and mentioning that it is $600 and made of titanium in the middle of the conclusion to the film. I cannot wait for Bringing Down the House 2: The Revenge of the Titanium Cellphone.
Get Yo Rant On – Somewhere deep in some Hollywood R&D department some intern is working on a method to edit DVDs for movies just like this. This movie would be a decent comedy (if not very funny and pretty crazy in the end) if not for the … distasteful and old-fashioned content it relies on. And there are plenty of movies like this, the gay panic scene in The Medallion is a legend! Anyways, Betty White saying a little kid looks like a … bundle of sticks is kind of where I draw the line though. If only that intern worked harder! Then they could just carefully and diligently re-edit this terrible film into something a bit more … marketable. A little dystopian, but you know they’d do it if they could. I would call this being:
Renegaded (v.) – To edit a released film in order to hide the fact that you made an abomination that no one can love; named after the Renegade Cut of Highlander II: The Quickening.
The BMT – Not really a legendary film unfortunately. It could have been if it was even more unpalatable, but watching it it isn’t nearly as bad as I expected. I do think this is an interesting recent addition to the 30-40% Rotten Tomatoes run we are going on. It does indicate our cutoff is shockingly good for something we kind of flippantly made up six years ago. Go figure.
StreetCreditReport.com – I didn’t really expect to find this on any lists. And yet, somehow, New Years come early for me because … this list is obviously amazing. How daaaaaaaare they speak ill of White Chicks though. It’s not their fault that they look like monsters!
And that is is, no homework.