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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

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Other Titles
• Bringing Down the House
• In the Houze

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Review of Bringing Down the House (2003) by Karina Montgomery

Bringing Down The House

Bringing Down The House, on paper, is nothing you haven't seen before. Two people from different worlds are forced into association, awkwardness, acceptance, and absolution. So, what does director Adam Shankman (two horrible movies under his belt previously) got that other movies ain't got? He has cool, strong soul sista Queen Latifah, and witty white brainihonky Steve Martin, with a dash of Übersquare Eugene Levy, that's what.

In Entertainment Weekly, Queen Latifah stated that the original draft of this movie was a mess, and the article explains that she came in and made funnier and more NAACP-friendly touchups to file down the offense and sharpen the wit. Thank goodness!

It's good when we can be shocked by and laugh at an ignorant racist's thoughtless comments. That means that we not only recognize, but are appalled by the emotion behind it. That indeed is progress. The movie does not apologize for its racist characters, as they are part of life, and indeed, no great downfall becomes them for their stereotypical assumptions - also part of life. The message is not "fix everyone" but "be true to yourself" as well as "you can accept anyone if you can accept yourself as you are." This is a very cool message. It's also good when two diverse people can learn from each other's perspectives without giving up who they are, or one character assuming the role of "the better one" lifting the other out of the squalor. Regardless of the source of contrast (ghetto vs. uptight, poor vs. rich, slutty vs. virginal) the best of these types of comedies enable both characters to transcend their own lives' traps & pitfalls through what they learn from the other side of the tracks.

Latifah's character steadfastly refuses to Standard-Americanize her speech, but she knows how to do so when needed. Martin's character compromises Latifah's dignity while sucking up to the intolerant bastards he is afraid of, people with the power to ruin his life; he regains his soul when he finally stops. Trust me, I am not spoiling any plot points here. If you didn't know this sort of thing was going to happen, you have no business leaving the house unattended. No bones about it, Bringing Down The House treads a fine line between "black people are completely cooler than white people" and "old racists will never learn." It sacrifices some funny to the PC gods, but overall, it's a pleasant movie that respects it characters and does it with some gusto. It hasn't been all that well received, probably because it is nowhere near as hilarious as its cast could have made it; the biggest set pieces end up getting watered down in support of the Message, and it leaves some sense of hollowness behind.

Occasionally the film seems to lose track of its narrative goal in favor of a random "ain't white folks silly" sequence (example: every word of Eugene Levy's dialogue) - and we're not sure what to hope for. Do we want Steve Martin to get his wife back or get busy with Ms. Latifah? Do we want justice on all the small minded obstacle characters or do we want universal cheek-turning and dignity?

I did laugh a lot in this film (as did my loudly appreciative audience and delighted companion) but I can't say that I felt as satisfied as I could have with such a prime set up of King Tut and Queen Latifah. It's fun and enjoyable, but something was missing.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ These reviews (c) 2003 Karina Montgomery. Please feel free to forward but just credit the reviewer in the text. Thanks. Check out previous reviews at: - the Online Film Critics Society - Hollywood Stock Exchange Brokerage Resource for 1999 releases

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