Other Titles • Bringing Down the House • In the Houze • JailBabes.com
Synopses for Bringing Down the House (2003)
When a lonely man meets a woman on the Internet, who happens to be in prison, she breaks out to be with him, and proceeds to wreak havok on his middle-class life.
Peter Sanderson (Steve Martin) is a divorced workaholic L.A. lawyer trying to forget his ex-wife (Jean Smart). Successful but lonely, Peter falls for an online chat buddy and is eager to meet his dream girl, until he meets the real woman behind the screen name and realizes she is nothing like he thought. Instead of a svelte blonde businesswoman he comes face to face with Charlene Morton (Queen Latifah), a sassy African American ex-con who is eager to infiltrate Peter's stereotypically uptight white suburban world. Charlene wants Peter to defend her and prove she's innocent of a crime that she didn't commit but Peter wants nothing to do with the fast-talking homegirl. However, Peter's geeky best friend Howie (Eugene Levy) feels different and begins to woo the voluptuous diva with "hip" street lingo and hysterically deadpan come-ons. Soon enough, Charlene is shacked up in Peter's palatial estate, throwing wild parties, and opening his eyes to life, love and infectious freedom. Steve Martin and Queen Latifah are a fresh and dynamic comic team in this hysterical spin on the black-white buddy comedy that is a mixture of PRETTY WOMAN and THE FRESH PRINCE OF BEL AIR.
Peter Sanderson (STEVE MARTIN) is a divorced, straight-laced, uptight, workaholic attorney who still loves his ex-wife (JEAN SMART) and canít figure out what he did wrong to make her leave him. However, Peterís doing his best to move on, and heís become smitten with a brainy, bombshell barrister heís been chatting with online. But when she comes to his house for their first face to face, he quickly discovers she isnít refined, isnít Ivy League, and isnít even a lawyer.
Instead, itís Charlene (QUEEN LATIFAH), a prison escapee whoís proclaiming her innocence and wants Peter to help clear her name. But Peter wants nothing to do with her, prompting the loud and shocking Charlene to turn Peterís perfectly ordered life upside down, jeopardizing his efforts to get back with his wife and woo a billion-dollar client (JOAN PLOWRIGHT). As hysterical complications ensue, our unlikely pair has the chance to put each otherís lives on higher groundÖ if they donít end up bringing down the house.
The pleasingly contrasting comic styles of Queen Latifah and Steve Martin bring some energy to Bringing Down the House, an otherwise hopelessly formulaic comedy. Martin plays Peter, an uptight lawyer too obsessed with work to spend quality time with his kids. Into his life comes Queen Latifah as Charlene, an escaped convict who threatens to wreck his relationship with a wealthy but arch-conservative client (Joan Plowright, in high dudgeon) if Peter won't take up her case. Of course, Latifah's exuberant ways enchant his kids and bring out a looser, livelier side of Peter, all in a series of scenes so standard they hardly register. Thank goodness for Eugene Levy; as one of Peter's law partners with a taste for Charlene's bodacious brand of sexy, Levy's ingenious transformation from nebbish to loverman is the movie's secret weapon, stealthily planting comic explosions amidst the modest rice-krispie-crackle of the stale plot. --Bret Fetzer
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