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Bringing Down the House (2003)

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(77 votes)
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(12 reviews)
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Plot Description
Shooting Locations

Directed by
Adam Shankman

Written by
Jason Filardi

Steve Martin, Queen Latifah, Eugene Levy, Joan Plowright, Jean Smart [more]

Release Date
 USA: Mar 7, 2003
 UK: 30 May 2003
DVD Release Date
 R1: Aug 5, 2003
 R2: 12 Jan 2004

Budget $35,000,000

Official Website:
Bringing Down the House Website

MPAA Rating
Rated PG-13 for language, sexual humor and drug material.

Running Time
1 hour, 45 minutes

Country USA

Studio Touchstone Pictures

More info on

Other Titles
• Bringing Down the House
• In the Houze

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Review of Bringing Down the House (2003) by Jon Popick

Planet Sick-Boy:
"We Put the SIN in Cinema"

Copyright 2003 Planet Sick-Boy. All Rights Reserved.

Want to hear something funnier than any joke in Bringing Down the House? Queen Latifah has more Oscar nominations than Steve Martin, arguably America's finest and most consistently funny comedic actor. That Martin has been reduced to performing in junk like House is a grand injustice, albeit one carefully timed to coincide with his hosting of the Oscars in a couple of weeks. The film's premise sounds like a bad idea for a television pilot, let alone a feature-length film.

House is incredibly offensive for two different reasons (and that doesn't even take into consideration the endless racial jokes steeped in the worst possible stereotypes, which I actually found quite funny). First, it's another one of these pictures in which a middle-aged white guy with a messed-up life is visited by a mysterious/magical Negro who shows him the light - after shuckin' and jivin' for an hour and a half, of course. House is also the latest film to make people laugh by taking an uptight cracker and forcing him to become Malibu rapper Brad Gluckman from the Jamie Kennedy Experiment. How many more times is this supposed to be funny? And wasn't it offensive back when white people did the same thing with shoe polish on their faces? If you dig this kind of thing, stay tuned for the rest of Hollywood's "Post-Black History Month Blowout," which runs throughout March and culminates with Chris Rock's Head of State.

If you've seen the trailer for House, you already know the premise (and can probably figure out the ending without spending money or time watching the whole stupid thing). Peter Sanderson (Martin, Novocaine) is a tax attorney whose wife (Jean Smart, TV's The In-Laws) ditched him because he was more dedicated to his job than his family. Bored and lonely, Peter trolls for tail in online chatrooms, eventually striking up a relationship with a woman he assumes is a slim blonde lawyer. When Peter sets up a date with Charlene, he opens the door to discover she's a black ex-con who has to make two trips when she hauls ass (Latifah, Chicago). Could this possibly be worse than finding out your online dream girl is the owner of a bookstore you're about to muscle out of business?

When a surprised Peter tries to hurry Charlene out the door, she blackmails him into helping her expunge an armed robbery charge from her record. If Peter doesn't cooperate, Charlene makes it clear she'll throw a scene that will rile his racist neighbor (Betty White), who also happens to be the sister of his boss. Meanwhile, Peter also has to contend with landing a huge, equally racist client (Joan Plowright, Tea With Mussolini), as well as the young turk coworker (Michael Rosenbaum, Smallville) trying to steal the business for himself. And there's also unresolved issues with his ex, and the idea that his cracker kids (Tumbleweeds' Kimberly J. Brown and The Rookie's Angus T. Jones) will be exposed to that scary ghetto element Charlene brings into his home.

Blackmail is hilarious, isn't it? If it's not, I'm sure Latifah dressed as Mrs. Butterworth will tickle your funny bone (Peter has to pass Charlene off as his nanny/maid). If that doesn't float your boat, I'm sure you'll get a kick out of date rape, drug use, or a terrified Betty White shrieking, "I thought I heard Negroes!" All this, and House still manages to work in a diarrhea gag, plus a scene where Plowright's character makes two new black friends over a fatty.

That said, I was mildly entertained by House, specifically Martin's performance, at least for a while, but after 90 minutes it's just plain embarrassing, as the film stops short only of having Martin refer to Smart as his "baby mama." I'm not sure who I felt sorrier for: The people who were howling at the screen and rolling around in the aisles like they were at a Def Jam comedy show, or the people who sat there stone-faced because they recognized House as insulting crap. Here's a hint: The ones laughing as they say, "You got me straight trippin', boo," on the way out of the theatre don't realize they're making fun of themselves. Another winner from director Adam Shankman, who apparently isn't allowed to make a movie without a non-diva lead (see The Wedding Planner with J.Lo and A Walk To Remember with Mandy Moore).

1:45 - PG-13 for language, sexual humor and drug material

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X-RT-RatingText: 3/10

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