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Overall Rating
2.13

Awesome: 17.73%
Worth A Look: 8.51%
Average: 4.26%
Pretty Bad: 8.51%
Total Crap60.99%

5 reviews, 111 user ratings


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Bringing Down the House
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by Scott Weinberg

"Nothing's like watching a personal hero wriggle through shit."
1 stars

Hero Worship is a dangerous game. I've been a passionate fan of Steve Martin's since I was about six (my parents used to play his comedy albums constantly). I've enjoyed lengthy debates with people on the hidden merits of movies like Sgt. Bilko and Mixed Nuts (arguably Martin's worst flicks), I've read every book and play the man's written, and I proudly rank him as my #1 Favorite Actor in Hollywood. No kidding. And if I met the guy tomorrow, I'd say to him (while fighting back tears of fury) "Shame on you Steve. Just shame on you."

That's how atrocious Bringing Down the House is. The comedy is anemic, dull and outdated, the screenplay is a harrowingly ugly pastiche of reverse racism, every actor onscreen is clearly on auto-pilot, and the underlying theme of the movie is as insulting as it is painful to experience.

This movie makes Mixed Nuts look like Hamlet.

And here's what pisses me off most of all: Steve Martin doesn't need to do shit like this! Let's take a look at the formerly Wild & Crazy guy's most recent features:

Overlooking little spots in Fantasia 2000, The Prince of Egypt, The Spanish Prisoner and Joe Gould's Secret, Martin's last few years have brought us...

Novocaine, Bowfinger, and The Out-of-Towners.

Clearly the guy doesn't snatch up every script tossed his way. Call it taste, call it intelligence, or chalk it up to the fact that the guy's a damn good screenwriter in his own right, but the simple fact is that Martin hasn't done many movies lately.

Some could see this as a smart actor being choosy.

So how the hell does one explain Martin's presence in what's easily one of the worst comedies of the past ten years???

I don't know; ask someone less enamored with Steve Martin's total body of work. I guess I'm too close to the problem to think clearly. But I do know that Bringing Down the House made me furious - mainly because it's such a wretched film but also because of what's become of my beloved white-haired comedian. All I can say is that I hope Steve got a cut of the Box Office receipts, because Bringing Down the House is absolutely awful enough to become a big hit at the multiplexes.

Martin plays a Peter Sanderson, a lonely divorcee who sparks up an Internet romance with a fellow attorney. Or so he thinks. Imagine Whitey's surprise when a loud, overweight black woman shows up at his door claiming to be his cyber-babe. Latifah plays Charlene, an ex-con and bona-fide black person. The rest of the flick consists of Peter trying to hide Charlene from his white co-workers and neighbors.

Think back on movies like Short Circuit or Harry and the Hendersons; picture the following scene:

The large 'creature' stands in the living room as the doorbell rings. Our heroes scurry around trying to cover the creature with big blankets or furniture. The front door opens and the visitors suspiciously eye around the room as the heroes act really really dumb. The creature remains undiscovered as comedy ensues.

OK, so it's hardly an original concept, but now imagine the 'creature' is a loud-mouthed minority. Yes, according to screenwriter Jason Filardi, nothing in an upper-crust white neighborhood could EVER be as horrifiying as a black woman who's not someone's servant.

Laughing yet?

Save for Martin's character, every whitey in Bringing Down the House is racist to an almost Duke-ian degree. It's horrifying to behold. Try not to cringe as words like "Jemima" are flung about for laughs, and veteran performer Joan Plowright humiliates herself beyond all hope of redemption by spending a good three minutes of screen time belting out an old 'slave song' for Charlene's benefit. And I'm intentionally avoiding mention of an execrable 'fight scene' between Charlene and a racist whitey bitch, one that A) runs on about 4 minutes too long, B) is over-the-top physical schtick wholly incongruous with the rest of the film, C) features some of the worst direction I've ever seen, and D) perfectly represents the amateurish awfulness of Bringing Down the House as a whole.

Is any of this funny yet?

Clearly working under the (currently correct) assumption that mocking white people is a simple way to get the cheapest laughs in the universe, professional hack and talentless wonder Adam Shankman (A Walk to Remember, The Wedding Planner) overloads his ugly film with horrific excess. Uptight Whitey of the Hour Eugene Levy stops by for six scenes in which he's forced to mumble arcane 'urban slang' in the hopes of scoring a few mild chuckles and fails entirely. (Let me know when the whole 'white people using black slang' schtick is through as comedy fodder - as it's infinitely more insulting and pandering than it is actually entertaining.)

Since Bringing Down the House was produced by Latifah herself, it should come as no surprise that the movie has a tone of 'African Americans know what's up; stuffy white people are morons' vibe, and the actress somehow manages to bring a small amount of charm to her horrible character - all of it wasted on a film so unsavory it inspires wide-mouthed gaping.

Consider early scenes in which Latifah invades Martin's home; we're supposed to side with the ex-con because Whitey can't deal with an African American squatter. Yes, we're meant to side with Latifah, despite the fact that she's A) a stranger, B) a potentially dangerous ex-con, and C) prone to throwing House Parties (complete with hundreds more (gasp!) Black People!) at the drop of a hat. So while our logical brains tell us "She's a freaking menace! Call the cops, Steve!", the film screams "Bah, you're just a whitey and you're an idiot. You already bought the ticket, so revel in the swill."

This sort of thing happens about ten times during the film, and each experience brought me closer to getting up from my seat and leaving the theater. (The last movie I walked out on was Meteor Man and that flick came out about ten years ago. If you'd have told me that I'd be considering my next walkout during a Steve Martin movie, I'd have thought you straight trippin' yo.)

Get it? "STRAIGHT TRIPPING YO!?!?!" It's funny...cuz I'm white... and that's something... a BLACK person... might...say...

See? Not funny.

Perhaps I'm being a bit too sensitive to the race stuff in what's essentially a puffy little comedy flick. That still doesn't change the fact that there's not one good laugh in the entire movie. I'm not sure what kind of magic spell it takes to make Steve Martin so lifeless and unlikable, but I certainly hope that it's a concoction exclusive to clueless studio property like Shankman and Filardi.

Bringing Down the House purports to be about how white and black can get along...but only if the white guy is the only non-racist in the universe. Equally insulting to both races, Bringing Down the House is one of the most hateful and low-minded comedies I've ever seen - and it absolutely earns a spot right next to the justifiably loathed Amos & Andrew, both of which clearly illustrate why talentless filmmakers should never attack a topic they know nothing about. And shame on you, Steve.

I never thought I'd live to witness a Steve Martin project that I actively hate, but I now know that Hollywood can and will ruin everything given half the chance. I know for a fact that Steve Martin turns down a lot of scripts, which begs the question: was he on CRACK when he signed on for this one?

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=7139&reviewer=128
originally posted: 03/06/03 06:38:29
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User Comments

2/26/14 FireWithFire Reboot:Loud White woman terrorizes rich Black man,KO's Black racist.Now THAT's FUNNY!!!! 1 stars
1/25/14 Cjzyowmv USA 3 stars
1/20/14 Qtliyeei USA 5 stars
6/23/13 Charles Tatum I didn't hate this as much as I thought I would. 3 stars
11/30/08 Vlad Hollywood is racist against Whites. 1 stars
5/15/08 PAUL SHORTT ABSOLUTELY HORRENDOUS - TRULT TERRIBLE 1 stars
10/24/07 Ivana Mann I actually got diarrhea from seeing this cinematic monstrosity.Totally racist! 1 stars
2/11/07 Monster W. Kung Vomit-inducingly bad. 1 stars
9/08/06 Tiffany Really funny, loved it 5 stars
8/05/06 H A EC's review is right on. Most pathetic movie I've ever seen. 1 stars
6/11/06 S Laws Briefly, I found the film highly degrades women and African Americans. Disgusting! 1 stars
3/20/06 C-Dawg i luvded it dawwwg!!! and it wuz funne 5 stars
1/15/06 JM Synth Not without laughs, but they're few and far between, and much of the movie is offensive 2 stars
6/24/05 Weltner This & "White Chicks,most racist,anti-White movies of 2004. Hooray for Hollywood!! 1 stars
5/28/05 Weltner Whites-square,tight-assed,racist,blacks-cool,funky,loose,smart,etc.F-YOU hollywood!!!! 1 stars
5/07/05 Terry S. Good humor and full of warmth (IF you are out for a good time, not an award-winner). 4 stars
3/21/05 Gina Film is hilarious! EC should look up "satire" and lose the chip on his shoulder. Fool! 5 stars
6/19/04 J Unfunny and pointless except when Steve become a ganster! * out of 4 1 stars
6/08/04 Ryan Clark Very funny, without encouraging racism in any way. If anything, it makes it unattractive. 5 stars
6/08/04 Tara Earlier in the movie we learned that the cell phone was made of titanium, not plastic. 3 stars
5/27/04 karja i thought this movie was funny. shows racism ppl dont want to admit. ERIK CHILDRESS SUCKS! 5 stars
5/14/04 Mac The worst movie I have seen all year. 1 stars
5/12/04 Kelly Excellent and Funny 5 stars
4/30/04 Aaron Loved this movie, if it wasn't meant to be funny, it atleast show the trueness of racism. 5 stars
4/16/04 Matt Clark This movie is hilarious. 5 stars
3/31/04 Mona Llott Dangle usurper Latifah from a rooftop until she confesses to making horrible movies! 1 stars
3/31/04 Mona Little MY BIG FAT GEEK MEDDLING (Previous poster is right;stuff like this is why I CAN'T lightenup 1 stars
3/31/04 No, ROBERT. Slapstick is light humor; this is not. If America was built on this, no wonder it is in such bad shape today! 1 stars
3/08/04 ROBERT "AMERICA WAS BUILT ON THIS KIND OF 'SLAP-STIX' PEOPLE", LIGHTEN-UP! 5 stars
3/04/04 Millie Maelstrom I can't think of anyone who needs this heavy-handed message, now that Marge Schott is dead. 1 stars
2/22/04 carrie I thought it was a great laugh! Where is everyone's sense of humor? 5 stars
1/23/04 Chloe Brody Who dere? Who dere? Fucking Steve Martin is there!!! 1 stars
1/18/04 Bemused Often more trash from a has-been and and even more from a never-was. 1 stars
12/02/03 Chris I was in the theater with all african american people, they loved it, and I did to. 4 stars
11/21/03 And Take Steve Martin With You Queen Latifah should die. This & "Scary Movie 3" are great ways to follow-up an Oscar nom.. 1 stars
11/21/03 y2mckay This movie sucks balls. Queen Latifah's "I'm a pissed off black chick" shtick is pathetic 1 stars
11/14/03 jojo it rocked and who ever wrote this should go drown in a lake 5 stars
10/28/03 Mona Lott Dangle usurper Latifah from a rooftop until she confesses to making horrid movies! 1 stars
10/28/03 Mona Little MY BIG FAT GEEK MEDDLING 1 stars
10/09/03 JC Davis Sr This film is really awful 2 stars
10/06/03 Victoria H. This movies was a racist abomination. Not a laugh in it either. HORRIBLE! 1 stars
10/06/03 Kitty I thought it was pretty funny, Latifa was great in this! Steve Martin annoyed me, though 4 stars
9/22/03 Darryl Screw all the critics - this is a hilarious movie. Queen Latifah is wonderful! 5 stars
9/08/03 Kyle Queen Latifah is wonderful and funny! I just don't get all these negative ratings??? 4 stars
9/06/03 brian langa Its easy to see that most critics here are unfunny 4 stars
9/03/03 tmv LIGHTEN UP PEOPLE, ITS A COMEDY! U CRITICIZE AS IF UR LIFE DEPENDED ON THIS MOVIE! 4 stars
9/03/03 palaboy101 u have got to see this hilarious movie. CRITICS ARE CRITICS! 4 stars
8/31/03 Kitty Kelso FUCK THE BAD REVIEWS!!! martin and latifah kicked ass!!! 5 stars
8/23/03 Terrance Rogers it was good but nothing i'd go crazy over 4 stars
8/20/03 nr great 5 stars
8/18/03 Gil Carlson If you've seen the trailers, you've already seen the best bits. 1 stars
8/13/03 Kooler the most racist unfunny film ever 1 stars
8/13/03 Leah Stupid, Offensive, Sucks!! 1 stars
8/03/03 Ash UNFUNNY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 1 stars
6/10/03 Lola Loved every minute of it 5 stars
6/03/03 Virgil I liked this movie, I'm white, and why don't you lighten up a little? 5 stars
5/16/03 Piz dumb and too over-the-top. My I didn't get it, I never laughed 1 stars
4/26/03 OnlyChild Disappointing, since i like Steve Martin & Queen Latifah 3 stars
4/26/03 John Aster Habig Like Blazing Saddles it's not racist it satires racism you can't denounce it w/o seeing it 5 stars
4/25/03 jackass fuck all yall 5 stars
4/19/03 Linda A. Williams Racist, degrading, promotes stereotypes 1 stars
4/18/03 earl duron racist and offensive trash 1 stars
4/17/03 Tonya Kennedy Very stereotypical and offensive 2 stars
4/15/03 Innocent^Eyes Enjoyed but it could of been better 3 stars
4/14/03 Melanie This movie really wasn't bad. It was funny! 4 stars
4/14/03 malcolm insultingly stereotypical, Latifah should've showed those monster boobs 2 stars
4/12/03 me funny 5 stars
4/07/03 Shadaan Felfeli Awful, crappy, fuckall ...and all that jazz! 1 stars
4/05/03 M. Palmer I totally disagree with Erik Childress. It was a fun and lighthearted movie that pokes fun 4 stars
4/04/03 Noah This is truly the worst movie I've ever seen. 1 stars
4/02/03 Diane BDTH is hilarious....lighten up and get a sense of humor 5 stars
3/28/03 Doug This was the worst film I've seen in many years 1 stars
3/27/03 Karen Moore What the fuck country is Latifah queen of? 1 stars
3/26/03 Ken #1 US movie for 3 weeks. I'm rooting for Iraq. 1 stars
3/24/03 Antisocial shit piss fuck cunt cocksucker motherfucker tits... These words are funnier than this film 1 stars
3/24/03 Rob This movie has made $67 million in 3 weeks. Think we'll be cursed with a sequel?! 1 stars
3/23/03 Winthrop J Applesmythe III steve martin rules. eugene levy is great. queen latifah is great. this movie SU-HUCKS. 1 stars
3/21/03 AJ The film rocks! 5 stars
3/20/03 May Q. Horney Dangle "queen" Latifah from a rooftop til she gets what being presumed guilty's really like 1 stars
3/20/03 bob leather jacket It really sucks all ass...stupid racist flick 1 stars
3/17/03 Peter Steve Martin shows that he is flexible here with such a new role to him. Kicks butt! 5 stars
3/17/03 Ken #1 for 2 weeks? How many brain-dead mutants live in this fucking country? 1 stars
3/17/03 Charlie Bauer I saw this movie at a theater in a fairly diverse area (Burbank, CA), and everyone yelled o 1 stars
3/17/03 Bewildered Next time you morons gripe about a bad film remember how eagerly you sucked this one's dick 1 stars
3/15/03 Pamela Rarely have I laughed so little at a Steve Martin film 2 stars
3/15/03 Jin It has its moments. Lighten up people! 4 stars
3/14/03 Large Farve This proves the Steve Martin is actually dead and is just a puppet for directors 1 stars
3/14/03 Film Dude Movie sucks cock. Don't listen to Andrew Carden. 1 stars
3/14/03 Allen Wasen't that bad 3 stars
3/13/03 Ken Really really funny...if you're a fucking retard. 1 stars
3/13/03 Tommy EXCELLENT FILM! Makes fun of EVERYBODY like it was before the polically correct jerks 5 stars
3/12/03 bob mckenzie Worst. Movie. Ever! 1 stars
3/11/03 CaMs E. Childresses review-only a movie 4 stupid ig. white people=racial crap, like the movie. 1 stars
3/11/03 Devon Bott walked out on it after 45 minutes 1 stars
3/11/03 GMan the stupid white guy-messiah black figure shtick has been played out. FUCK popular culture. 1 stars
3/11/03 Karen Too many stereotypes. Embarrassing to watch at times. 2 stars
3/10/03 Andy Likely to go down as the most predictable and least funny "comedy" of the milennium. 1 stars
3/10/03 Reid I now have my new "Worst Film of All Time" and that may not change for a long while! 1 stars
3/10/03 Turd Detector Why did you stupid fucking people give this SHIT FILM $31 million dollars? 1 stars
3/09/03 Don Erik Childress Hits The Nail On the Head: This Movie SUCKS! What was Steve Martin THINKING? 1 stars
3/09/03 Chale This movie is too funny for words... 5 stars
3/09/03 Film Dude ANDREW YOU STUPID FUCK, THERE IS NO CHEMISTRY!!! 1 stars
3/09/03 Steve Buckley Cool Movie - critique is way off base 4 stars
3/08/03 Uncle Salty I saw this movie when it was called "Bullworth" and when the actress was hot.. 1 stars
3/08/03 Mister Bigglesworth Can't polish a turd. If you have to eat a turd sandwich, don't nibble. 1 stars
3/07/03 George Jung To anyone who even slightly liked this movie: FUCK YOU, FUCK YOUR FRIENDS & FUCK YOU AGAIN 1 stars
3/07/03 Dr. Bitterpants WHAT were the babyboomers who greenlighted this THINKING? Snoop Dog's posse going to pay $? 1 stars
3/07/03 Rob and Chris You Americans are gay and so is your shitty movie- go to hell...all of you 1 stars
3/07/03 Pete seriously one of the worst films EVER! not funny just xenophobic 1 stars
3/06/03 The Aussie Film Reviewer Horrific. And this woman was nominated for an OSCAR?! 1 stars
3/06/03 Kyle Poor Steve... 1 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  07-Mar-2003 (PG-13)
  DVD: 07-Sep-2004

UK
  N/A

Australia
  03-Apr-2003


Directed by
  Adam Shankman

Written by
  Jason Filardi

Cast
  Steve Martin
  Queen Latifah
  Eugene Levy
  Joan Plowright
  Jean Smart
  Missi Pyle



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