Bringing Down the House


In this over-the-top demonstration of the hazards of internet dating, uptight lawyer Peter (Steve Martin) ventures online in search of a refined woman to help him get over his ex-wife (Jean Smart). Believing he’s found just the person in Charlene (Queen Latifah), he arranges a face-to-face meeting, only to discover she’s actually a sassy prison escapee looking for representation, not romance. With Charlene’s mere presence causing untold chaos for Peter both at home and at work, he reluctantly agrees to help the vociferous homegirl, who returns the favor by taking some of the starch out of Peter’s buttoned up life. Nothing unexpected comes from this odd-couple pairing, but it’s nevertheless highly amusing, thanks largely to Latifah’s unrestrained performance and hilarious supporting turns from Eugene Levy, Joan Plowright, and Betty White.

Grade: B+

Kinsey Scale: 4 (Latifah, who was Oscar nominated for her turn as butch prison matron Mama Morton in Chicago, played the militant lesbian ringleader of a group of female bank robbers in Set It Off. Martin appeared in TV’s And the Band Played On, about the discovery of the AIDS virus, and was a woman in a man’s body in All of Me. Levy was in the homo-tinged ensemble comedies Best In Show and Waiting For Guffman. Smart was in long running TV gay fave Designing Women, while White appeared in the similarly beloved The Golden Girls. Missi Pyle, seen here as Peter’s gold-digging ex-sister-in-law, was in the gay romantic comedy Trick.)

(Appeared in Q Syndicate)