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Steve Martin as Peter Sanderson
Queen Latifah as Charlene Morton
Eugene Levy as Howie Rosenthal
Joan Plowright as Mrs. Arness
Jean Smart as Kate Sanderson
Kimberly J. Brown as Sarah Sanderson
Angus T. Jones as Georgey Sanderson
Missi Pyle as Ashley
Michael Rosenbaum as Todd Gendler
Betty White as Mrs. Kline
“Breaking Down Bringing Down The House” Behind-The-Scenes- Featurette
Queen Latifah Music Video “Better Than The Best”
“The Godfather Of Hop” Featurette – A close-up look at Eugene Levy with tongue firmly planted in cheek
“Da’ Commentary” with Director Adam Shankman and Writer Jason Filardi
Widescreen (2.35:1) – Enhanced for 16x9 Televisions
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
French Language Track
Running Time: 105 Minutes
Peter Sanderson is a hard working tax lawyer for a major firm. When he's not negotiating multimillion-dollar deals and fighting off younger lawyers, he's online chatting with his new love interest, Charlene. Having divorced a few years ago, he's now looking for love on the internet.
Charlene and Peter decide to meet in person, but Peter's in for a big surprise. Rather than being a conservative blonde woman like he expects, Charlene is a large black woman who's an ex-convict. Peter is instantly disinterested in her and tries to get rid of her, but Charlene wants him to help her clear her name. Charlene insists she didn't do the crime she was convicted of and Peter is her only hope in setting the record straight. She won't take no for an answer.
Since Peter is trying to close a multi-billion dollar deal with old, conservative Mrs. Arness, he is concerned that Charlene will cause problems. He agrees to help her out in order to keep her out of the way. What follows is a clash of cultures as Peter's neighbors, kids, and co-workers get to know the boisterous and mysterious Charlene. Of course everything that could go wrong does go wrong.
"Bringing Down the House" is rated PG-13 for language, sexual humor and drug material.
Though I enjoyd this film more in the theater with a large audience, it’s still one of the funniest comedies I've seen in a long time. The movie has universal appeal to people of all backgrounds and everyone will find something that will have them laughing out loud. The movie portrays everyone as both real people and as stereotypes and it makes the most out of setting up the cultures for a clash.
Steve Martin returns in top form. This is one of his funniest performances in a long time. His character transforms from an uptight conservative lawyer to an undercover dancing brother. His change is so funny that it makes this easily one of his most memorable characters.
Queen Latifah is absolutely hilarious as well. She really keeps the movie rolling along and is the perfect co-star for Martin. The two play off of each other really well and it appears they had quite a bit of fun ad-libbing. Latifah plays Charlene with just the right mix of sincerity and outrageousness that it makes her lovable. Latifah also has one of the funniest fight scenes of the year. A catfight between her and a white girl is so funny simply because it comes so far out of left field.
Eugene Levy steals every scene he's in as Howie Rosenthal, Steve Martin's co-worker who has a thing for large black women. His pick-up lines and slang are so unexpected and funny, especially considering whom they are coming from. Levy also plays well off of Queen Latifah.
The rest of the supporting cast does a great job, too. Betty White is really funny as the racist neighbor of Steve Martin. She somehow manages to say the worst possible thing at the worst possible time. Her character builds up to a single joke that got one of the biggest laughs of the entire film. Joan Plowright is also hilarious as Mrs. Arness, the rich heiress who has an incredibly amusing change of character by the end of the movie. I can't get into details, but she gets some of the big laughs towards the end of the story. Jean Smart is also wonderful as Kate Sanderson, Martin's ex-wife. Her reactions to Charlene are really fun and her character gets a lot more attention than you'd otherwise expect.
I should also mention that the music chosen for this film was perfect. Watching Eugene Levy drool over Queen Latifah to the tune of "Jungle Love" is just hilarious.
I only had two minor gripes about it. The first was that I didn't buy the final resolution with Mrs. Arness. After everything that happens to her, I hardly think she'd provide the Hollywood ending that she does. However, the rest of the film was so much fun that this is forgivable.
My other gripe is that Michael Rosenbaum is under-used as the young cutthroat Todd Gendler. I think he's a great comic actor and the few scenes he had in this movie were some of the weakest of the story. Fans of Lex Luthor may be disappointed.
Overall, though, these are pretty minor gripes. I think you'll get a big kick out of "Bringing Down the House".
The menus on the DVD are kind of fun. They feature each of the characters from the movie along with their nicknames. For example, Eugene Levy’s picture says “Freak Boy” underneath it. The rest of the characters rotate out as you make your selection. These menu screens lead you to the features:
Deleted Scenes – There are about 10 deleted scenes on the DVD. They aren’t terribly funny and it was a wise move to remove them from the film. It helped the overall pace. One scene shows Levy hitting on Latifah. Rather than seeming funny, it seems a bit creepy as he lays the sexual innuendos on thickly. Another scene shows Martin and Latifah on a shopping spree while another shows Mrs. Arness cheating at golf. There’s also an extended scene where Latifah beats up the boy harassing Sarah, then you see him peeing himself when he’s hung out a window. Again, they were all good cuts and they helped the movie out by removing them.
Gag Reel – This is a blooper reel of mainly people flubbing their lines. It’s really short and not as laugh-out-loud funny as I hoped it would be. One of the funnier moments is when the young boy continues flipping through the porno magazine long after the scene is over. Steve Martin’s reaction to this is really funny.
“Breaking Down Bringing Down The House” Behind-The-Scenes- Featurette – This is probably the best feature on the DVD. It’s about a 10 minute video featuring interviews with all the cast, behind the scenes footage, and more. Everyone seems to be having a lot of fun and there are a ton of jokes cracked by Latifah and the other cast. Latifah makes fun of the director, Betty White apologizes for what she says in the movie, Steve Martin reveals they made all of the slang up from scratch, and more. This is one feature well worth checking out.
Queen Latifah Music Video “Better Than The Best” – I really enjoyed this video up until the end. Queen Latifah sings a relaxing, catchy song against clips from the film. The premise of the video is that Eugene Levy is having a party at Steve Martin’s house while he’s away. They then cut new footage and clips from the movie together to make it look like a big house party. The whole video is fun with a mellow sound, and then at the end as the police break up the party, we are treated to the sight of a man vomiting on the front lawn. Huh? It completely ruined the mood of the video and should not have been included. Other than that, it’s a good song and video.
“The Godfather Of Hop” Featurette – This is kind of a mockumentary where the cast and crew pretend that Eugene Levy was the coolest one on the set and that he was the one who choreographed all of the hip dance moves. Of course, Levy plays along. It’s really funny to see the real choreographer show off the dance moves that Levy supposedly taught her. If you’re a fan of his role in the movie, you’ll enjoy this. It’s short, but funny.
“Da’ Commentary” with Director Adam Shankman and Writer Jason Filardi – Shankman and Filardi provide and energetic and amusing commentary to the movie. They discuss how the scenes were set up, amusing bloopers in the background that you might not have noticed, and more. It’s fun to listen to them talk during the catfight scene about how Latifah was looking forward to it, how a stuntwoman got hurt, and other bits of trivia.
The Bottom Line:
Bringing Down The House is one of the best comedies of the year and well worth checking out if you haven’t seen it before. While it might not necessarily be a movie you want to add to your collection, it would make an excellent renter.