ninth symphony films - movie reviews


DIRECTOR  -  adam shankman

RATED  -  pg-13

GENRE  -  comedy

LENGTH  -  105 minutes

RELEASED  -  7 march 2003

DISTRIBUTOR  -  touchstone pictures

OFFICIAL SITE  -  bringing it down

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $35,000,000
bringing down the house - a shot from the film


buy the dvd from bringing down the house at

buy the dvd from bringing down the house at

when a lonely guy 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 upper-class life.

originally titled "bringing down the houze."


picture from bringing down the house

picture from bringing down the house

picture from bringing down the house


two out of four possible stars

Bringing Down the House won't impress the most literary minds in the audience, but there are enough jokes in this film to keep most fans of the genre and actors entertained for the duration. Though the film runs a few minutes on the long side (for a comedy) and takes a few minutes to really find a comfortable groove, the film is still blessed with several laugh-out-loud moments. As one of the most respected comedic actors in Hollywood, Steve Martin certainly has a large fan base, and his broad appeal should bring in a healthy audience for this film. And the addition of Queen Latifah, who has traditionally enjoyed a different demographic as her fan base, should allow for a wide spectrum of viewers in the audience for this film.

And by and large, fans of these two actors should be pleased with what they see on the screen. As much as the story of the film moves in too obvious a direction for anyone to be at all surprised at the outcome, the point of this film is not to allow for admiration for its story. It's to entertain the masses with good natured physical and verbal comedy. And that's something both Latifah and Martin excel at, as is evidenced by just viewing the trailer for the film. Which, surprisingly, doesn't overload the audience with all the jokes in the film, leaving viewers who actually buy tickets confused as to why the film itself couldn't offer additional laughs.

Fortunately for the audience, the filmmakers include several entertaining moments that aren't shown in the trailer, so one need not worry that the film possessed an over-zealous trailer editor. What might make some viewers start to wiggle in their seats though is the amount of time the film takes to really find a comfortable vein in which to tell its story. Latifah and Martin don't share the screen as natural foils and it seems like they really have to work at making their comedy together work well off one another. In point of fact, the film becomes more impressive after the half-way point, as the jokes and laughs come in a quicker succession near the end of the film.

As the film (appropriately) speeds up toward its conclusion, viewers might find the somewhat long running time forgivable, considering many of the jokes appear late in the film. The editor though probably could have snipped a few seconds here and there throughout the film (especially near the beginning) to really make the speed pick up over the entire movie, rather than just near the end. Though the story unfolds in a normal enough fashion (read: predictable), the first act (the first half hour) wasn't let out of the gate quickly enough. But again, given that viewers will become increasingly entertained as the film wears on, this consideration isn't so much of a major flaw as just a bothersome aspect.

Possibly the only real annoying part of the picture is the soundtrack. Sounding like it was lifted from one of Martin's early-nineties comedies, the score for the film is filled with jazz riffs and happy-go-lucky strains that make the film feel a little used and not as fresh as it might have seemed with a more modern score. The vocal songs notwithstanding, as there are various R&B and hip hop songs littered throughout the film which seem right at home with the subject matter, the score (the orchestral side of the soundtrack) seems completely out of place and from a different era. But this might be a middling concern as most of the audience's attention will be on the human stars of the film, rather than the soundtrack.

Much of the credit for this film's success in the comedy department should be placed on Eugene Levy's shoulders. As a man constantly given supporting roles in his films, Levy is often the actor who makes a mediocre film more worthy. Though Bringing Down the House already has a lot of comedy from its lead stars, Levy still manages to steal the spotlight a few times with his sharp wit and caustic delivery. Simply seeing his hairstyle by the end of the film is worth the price of admission. In more minor roles, Betty White (as a horribly racist neighbor) and Joan Plowright (as a snobbish, wealthy heiress) both contribute more than their share in roles that seem far removed from any other recent projects.

The entire supporting cast is a credit to the film and almost brands the film an ensemble comedy, even if the supporting actors didn't make it onto the movie poster. As the lead stars of the film, Queen Latifah and Steve Martin make an unlikely yet entertaining comedic duo and while their relationship on screen isn't as immediately convincing as it should be, the two together still produce a good amount of laughs. Overall, the picture is blessed with a fair amount of jokes that should get audience members to laughing, and possibly howling, during more than one scene. Bringing Down the House is a slightly better than average "fish out of water" comedy, owing mightily to the performances of its fine cast.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.

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