Steve Martin has been out of the public eye for several years now and his last high profile film was 1999's Bowfinger which he wrote and starred in. Joining him this time is Queeen Latifah who is gaining serious ground in hollywood with bigger roles and in particular her roll in the Oscar favorite "Chicago". Even with all the talented physical comedy by these two, it just wasn't enough to pull this film out of the muck of crude racial mud.
Peter Sanderson (Steve Martin) is the divorced, rigid, uptight attorney who still loves his ex-wife (Jean Smart) and feels responsible for his divorce. However, Peter's trying to move on, and he's taken with a witty, mystery lady he's been chatting with on-line. But when she comes to his house for their first face to face encounter, she turns out to be anything but refined, classy, or even a lawyer. Instead, shes a prison escapee, Charlene (Queeen Latifah), who insists she is innocent and wants Peter to help her out of the mess she is in. Peter wants nothing to do with her, prompting the loud and shocking Charlene to turn Peter's perfectly ordered life inside out, risking his effort to reunite with his wife and land a billion dollar client (Joan Plowright). In the end, our unlikely pair fixes everything up just fine for another predictable comedy ending.
I'm not sure what bothered me more, the fact that this film was so dependent on racial stereotypes, or the audience laughing so hard at the jokes that came out of it. I think I cracked a smile twice during the whole film and I tried very hard to find enjoyment in the characters. I have always really respected and enjoyed Steve Martin in so many films. "Bringing Down the House" tries to drive home a message of racial tolerance and unity, but instead continues to pound us with typical racial profiling in order to make us laugh. Instead what I see happening in a sort of insideous way of keeping racism alive and well in our social psyches. I am sure this film will appeal to mainstream audiences, but it just didn't make me laugh. I will admit to enjoying the performances of Steve Martin and Queen Latifah, but this wasn't quite enough to raise the movie to the level of a recommendation.