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Overall Rating

Awesome: 17.27%
Worth A Look: 8.63%
Average: 3.6%
Pretty Bad: 8.63%
Total Crap61.87%

5 reviews, 109 user ratings

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Bringing Down the House
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by EricDSnider

"This film has no idea how stupid it is."
2 stars

There's a cluelessness about "Bringing Down the House" that is very unappealing. The premise that drives most of the action in the film is that if the uptight white lawyer's neighbors and business associates find out he's friends with a black woman, they will, I don't know, stop talking to him or something. But this premise is never explained. He never says, "My friends are very racist," or anything like that; it's just a given that OF COURSE a white lawyer cannot have a black friend, and that disapproval of such a situation is the only conceivable reaction for normal society. The lawyer himself seems to have no problem with this.

Well, there certainly is racism in America, but I have trouble believing it's THAT pervasive, to where ordinary people in Los Angeles -- practically every person this man knows -- dismiss out of hand the notion that white people can have black friends. I could see it in New England in the 1950s, of even some parts of the South today. But not L.A. in 2003, and not as widespread as it's made to appear. (The woman is an ex-con, too, which seems like a far more logical reason to hide her from your friends, but that aspect is mostly disregarded.)

And so it goes in this tactless, desperate comedy directed by Adam Shankman, director of such tepid films as "The Wedding Planner" and "A Walk to Remember." (The sitcom-level screenplay is by Jason Filardi, a first-timer.) Steve Martin plays the white guy, Peter Sanderson, a buttoned-down tax attorney recently split from his wife (Jean Smart) and too busy with work to pay attention to his kids.

He has recently been chatting online with "lawyergirl," whom he believes to be a gorgeous blond attorney but who turns out to be -- he discovers when he invites her over for a candlelit dinner -- Charlene Morton (Queen Latifah), the aforementioned black woman. Seems she got framed for a robbery she didn't commit, went to jail, got out, and now wants her lawyer friend Peter to re-open the case and clear her. For some reason, she thinks deceiving him and then taking over his house like a pest will put him in the mind of doing her favors.

Peter, however, is in the process of wooing a filthy rich new client, Mrs. Arness (Joan Plowright), a ridiculously proper and snooty dowager who does not stand for shenanigans, tomfoolery OR ballyhoo, and who certainly will not look favorably upon Peter having a sassy black woman for a friend. And so Charlene gets passed off as his maid.

The maid charade leads to the most uncomfortable scene in the film, and one of the most uncomfortable scenes in any film I've ever viewed. Charlene is serving the family at dinner, while the kids are on their best behavior and Peter is acting especially responsible and grown-up. Mrs. Arness, who spent her early years in the South before moving to England and becoming Joan Plowright, reminisces fondly about a black maid her family had, and a quaint Negro spiritual she used to sing. And then she sings it, at length. The words: "Mama, is Massa gonna sell us today? (repeat)"

Now, in a film going for outrageous, over-the-top, abrasive humor -- think "South Park," or the works of the Farrelly Brothers -- such a scene would not be out of place. In context, it would not even be offensive, because you'd have already become accustomed to such extremity.

"Bringing Down the House," though, has a far more temperate sense of humor. It does not strive for audacity; it is senseless enough to think it is just a regular ol' comedy about a guy who needs to learn what's important in life. The film never realizes how absurd and impertinent it is, and it seems to have no idea why this scene might be offensive. I have little patience for a film that doesn't know itself.

Steve Martin and Queen Latifah are both extremely talented comedians, and they occasionally wring laughs out of what would otherwise have been a laugh-free affair. Ditto Eugene Levy, deadpan as Peter's co-worker with a thing for black women.

I mentioned that this is a film about a guy who needs to learn what's important. What Peter basically learns is that he needs to loosen up and be, well, more black. Black people are fun-loving and carefree; white people are racist (though the film doesn't call them that), nerdy and fussy. Here is a film that manages to be racist against blacks AND whites. That's an impressive achievement. Unfortunately, what the film was TRYING to be was funny, and it didn't quite accomplish that.

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originally posted: 03/13/03 17:48:54
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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
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
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
3/04/04 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 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 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
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  07-Mar-2003 (PG-13)
  DVD: 07-Sep-2004



Directed by
  Adam Shankman

Written by
  Jason Filardi

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

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