March 2003
Bringing Down the House

Reviewed by Diana Blain

Bringing Down the House
Distributor: Buena Vista Pictures (Touchstone)
Directed by: Adam Shankman
Produced by: David Hoberman, Ashok Amritraj
Written by: Jason Filardi
Music by: Lalo Schifrin
Cast: Steve Martin, Queen Latifah, Eudene Levy, Joan Plowright, Jean Smart, Kimberly J. Brown, Angus J. Jones, Missi Pyle, Betty White


In this comedy, Peter Anderson (Steve Martin) is a divorced attorney who still loves his ex-wife and canít figure out what he did wrong to make her leave him. However, Peter is doing his best to move on. Peter becomes intrigued with Charlene (Queen Latifah), an on-line companion, who portrays herself to be a sexy lawyer but when she comes to his house for their first encounter he quickly discovers she isnít what she says she is.

This film may be a comic relief for some and not for others. It all depends on the style of humor that appeals to you. The authentic chemistry between Steve Martin and Latifah will keep the audience engaged in this corky storyline. I will say there are a few scenes that might strike a nerve but it is nothing that an audience hasnít seen before.

Whether invigorating or crude, the African American culture and experience has played and continues to play a big part in American comedy. The question is which side of the coin the viewers will continue to gamble on. I am always up for a good laugh but I wasnít sure if the audience was laughing because the scenes were funny or because they were amazed at how the film exemplified the stereotypical images of several cultures mainly that of the African American culture.

While I believe there is plenty of room in Hollywood for this type of film, I think my main concern is that this movie doesnít leave its viewers with a one-sided image of African Americans. I, as an adult, can differentiate between exaggerated comedy and reality but will a 15 year old girl in Belgium be able to do the same.