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October 2004

By Wilson Morales


Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Director: Tim Story
Producer: Luc Besson
Screenwriters: Robert Ben Garant, Thomas Lennon, & Jim Kouf
Cinematographer: Vance Burberry
Composer: Christophe Beck
Cast: Queen Latifah, Jimmt Fallon, Henry Simmons, Jennifer Esposito, Gisele Bundchen, & Ann-Margaret




After getting nominated for "Chicago" and making a box-office splash with "Bringing Down the House" a year and a half ago, the sun was shining hot for Queen Latifah. She then turned up in a few films (Scary Movie 3, Barbershop 2, and The Cookout, which she also produced) in cameo roles. Now she's back in a star vehicle along with a comedian ready to break out on his own. Jimmy Fallon has been known to many as a member of NBC's Saturday Night Live and now he's starring with a well known actor/comedian/singer. Together, the two of them star in "Taxi", a film that has plenty of action, laughs, and sex appeal. While the film has the look of a cliché buddy movie, Latifah and Fallon bring in their own flair of comedic skills to make a difference and take you on a New York joyride.

Set in New York City, Belle (Queen Latifah) is a speed freak, in the vehicle sense. Initially a bike messenger, she takes pride in that she can run her errands in record fashion. When her time comes, she quits that job and gets her taxi driver license. On the eve of her first day of work, she fixes her yellow cab with some installments rather than spend time with her boyfriend (Simmons). Andy Washburn (Fallon) is a bumbling cop trying to make a big case stick. He's also a terrible driver. When his skills behind the wheel crashes into a food market and lets some criminals escape, his boss, Lt. Marta Robbins (Esposito) isn't pleased as she confiscates his license to drive. When some models from Brazil, led by Vanessa (Bundchen), fly into the city begin robbing banks, Andy sees this as his opportunity to redeem himself. Convincing Belle to help him out, Andy has no idea what he's in stored when he gets in her car. Belle can get anywhere in record time, but sometimes that works against her when dealing with beautiful criminals.

While some of the jokes don't make everyone laugh, there are enough to keep you entertained. Queen Latifah takes the lead and flies with it. Her chemistry with Fallon isn't always on point but as the film moves on, it develops. Fallon, in his lead role, is somewhat bland as a comic. Some of his humor works and some don't. The cliché scene were the two of them start talking about their lives is dull and has no pay off. What works are the action scenes involving the cars. Let's face it, when the film is called Taxi, and plot involves a heist, folks want to see more action than drama. In her first film as an Gisele Bundchen is adequate portraying a model from Brazil. Not a big stretch here, but at least she didn't foolish. If the film is a success, maybe more demanding role are forthcoming. Director Tim Story has thrown some clever stunts for all to enjoy. The scene-stealer of the film would have to be Ann-Margaret. Who knew this actress has comedic chops within her acting skills. Henry Simmons, in trying to create a name for himself since NYPD Blue will end next year, is okay as the boyfriend. It's a useless role, but a good one for him. Taxi works when the film focuses on the action and less on the drama.