ninth symphony films - movie reviews

TAXI (2004)

DIRECTOR  -  tim story

RATED  -  pg-13

GENRE  -  comedy

LENGTH  -  100 minutes

RELEASED  -  18 october 2004

DISTRIBUTOR  -  20th century fox


ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $20,000,000
taxi - a shot from the film


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a mouthy cab driver has hot tips for a green cop set on solving a string of bank robberies.

ice cube was once in talks to star as the cab driver in this film, but when he dropped out it was rewritten for latifah.


picture from taxi

picture from taxi

picture from taxi

picture from taxi


one out of four possible stars

Taxi is an odd little film strung together by pieces of dialogue that were ostensibly written to cause audience laughter, but which usually just cause a crinkled forehead of confusion instead. Queen Latifah and Jimmy Fallon are each accomplished entertainers in their own right, but it's a strange day when they come together on screen. Because not only do their scenes yield few jokes, but in their individual roles, they each seem wrongly cast. As a NASCAR loving, speeding ticket collecting car fiend, Latifah's character is an interesting one, but the question remains: was she the best choice for this role?

She is certainly enthusiastic in her role, though it just might be the dialogue that fails her in this case. And the same can be said for Jimmy Fallon in many instances. With Taxi, he makes a comfortable transition from the small screen and "Saturday Night Live" to feature films, but he just can't hit the nail on the head with this performance. There are many instances from both actors where it's clear the editor has created a pause between pieces of dialogue for the assumed laughter the scene will bring to die down, but the pause becomes just another piece of silence in a nearly laugh-free film.

Where the film becomes interesting is in the car chases that rip around the crowded streets of New York City. Swinging the cars around the streets with a multitude of 180 degree (and 270 degree) turns, audience members just may find their attention grabbed. Making the two primary drivers of the cars (one a taxicab and the other a BMW) both women is a welcome change from the standard, though it's mildly difficult to consider Gisele BŁndchen a character since, as a bank-robbing Brazilian, most of what she does is drive cars and pose like a model.

Of course, her lack of dialogue seems to be more a function of the script than of BŁndchen's abilities, because if given a wider forum, she seems like she would be able to handle a more beefy role. But like Fallon and Latifah, BŁndchen is usually and simply a victim of a script that fails to deliver the laughs in the quieter moments of the film. It's difficult to determine whether the two lead stars ever would have made a cohesive duo in the honored tradition of buddy cop films. But the true problem might not be with the script or the casting. It just might lie with the direction and editing.

Unlike his success with the character-driven Barbershop (2002), director Tim Story is unable to coax truly hilarious performances from the actors. And when those performances veer into the dramatic and/or serious, the characters are usually as equally ineffective. But while the director might be able to put the blame on the weak dialogue (the jokes in this film really are the death-knell here), the editor, unfortunately, doesn't have anywhere to hide. There are a few gaping, glaring, gigantic plot holes in this film that should strike even the most inattentive audiences as deeply wrong.

Start Mild Spoiler
(highlight the blank area below to read spoiler text)

For example, when Latifah and Fallon's characters find where the money is hidden and rough up one of the bank robbers, Fallon deals with the robber, holding him at gunpoint while Latifah rips apart the fabric on a car to find the hidden stacks of stolen money. What makes this sequence incredible is that nobody tells Latifah where to find this money. She just kneels down at the door of the car and rips the fabric off. Was she communicated to via telepathy on where to find the cash? How did she know where the money was hidden? This is much more than your usual glaring plot hole. Filmmakers are usually able to more sufficiently disguise their story mistakes.

End Mild Spoiler

All of what Taxi has to offer is exciting car chases. The time spent between the action sequences when the characters are supposed to be developing and furthering their relationships is useless, as the comedy is unfunny and the drama is ineffective. This isn't a poorly made film as the cinematography, music, and set direction are all well-done and consistent with a big budget feature film. But even technically sound films need some push in the dialogue and story department. Fallon and Latifah are spirited in their roles, but their effort is wasted on an undeserving script.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.

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