Peter Sanderson is a divorced, straight-laced, uptight attorney who still loves his ex-wife and can't figure out what he did wrong to make her leave him. However, Peter's trying to move on, and he's smitten with a brainy, bombshell barrister he's been chatting with online. However, when she comes to his house for their first face-to-face, she isn't refined, isn't Ivy League, and isn't even a lawyer. Instead, it's Charlene, a prison escapee who's proclaiming her innocence and wants Peter to help her clear her name. But 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 won a billion dollar client. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
As offensive and misguided as a slapstick version of "Roots"
Is there an American Idol for screenwriters? I'm not up on my "reality" TV shows, but I have been noticing film after film written by some guy or girl who has no other movie to his or her credit. It's not that I'm against bringing new talent into Hollywood, but so far the "talent" part of the "new" equation hasn't happened.
Jason Filardi, the writer of Bringing Down the House, and the latest in a screenwriting sea of freshman ineptitude, has created one of the most laughably bad comedies this side of The Sweetest Thing; and none of the juvenile or racist jokes he throws in can save it. Filardi has managed to create a sort of bizarro world that would stink of racism as far back as the 1960s.
In Bringing Down the House, Peter Sanderson (Steve Martin) works at a law firm that appears to be segregated, attends a country club so uppity that his intrusive African American "friend," Charlene Morton (Queen Latifah) has to pretend that she's a nanny just to avoid trouble, and has a client who is the heiress to her husband's large fortune, who is such a bigot that she starts belting out an odious plantation song at the dinner table where she's being waited on by Charlene, who's still pretending to be a nanny and maid. Last, but definitely not least, is Sanderson's nosy neighbor, Mrs. Kline (Betty White). The woman is so prejudice that Sanderson, obviously not one willing or able to stand up for himself, hides Charlene when he sees Kline, to avoid any confrontation with his misguided neighbor. As they sneak the concealed Charlene into Sanderson's home, Mrs. Kline tells Sanderson that she thought she "heard negro," and he denies this by claiming that there's, "no negro here."
Are you laughing yet?
The fact that Queen Latifah would even act in this picture, much less act as one of its executive producers, boggles the mind. Maybe next she'll play Aunt Jemima in a series of ads for maple syrup. And how low will the once great Steve Martin go to save his dying career? If this racist little "comedy" makes a splash, maybe next we'll see him as a white businessman in a comedy musical version of Once Upon a Time... When We Were Colored. Eugene Levy has only a small part as Sanderson's partner in law, but, as he does with most films that he's featured in, manages to steal the show. Unfortunately, the only reason he steals this one is by delivering his stereotypical lines better than the rest of the cast. Maybe as a follow-up to this flick, he and Martin can put on some blackface and appear in an updated version of Amos 'n' Andy.
Intentional, or not, Bringing Down the House is a racist movie. By the time it's all over, this film borders on being as offensive and misguided as a slapstick version of Roots.
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