It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
I confess I expected Steve Martin and Queen Latifah to fall in love in "Bringing Down the House." That they avoid it violates all the laws of economical screenplay construction, since they are constantly thrown together, they go from hate to affection, and they get drunk together one night and tear up the living room together, which in movies of this kind is usually the closer.
But, no, all they fall into is Newfound Respect, which, in a world of high-performance star vehicles, is the mini-van. Eugene Levy is brought off the bench to console the Queen, and Martin ends up back with his divorced wife (Jean Smart), who exists only so that he can go back to her. These two couples had better never double date, because under the table Queen and Steve are going to have their socks up each other's pants.
Why, I asked myself, is their mutual sexual attraction disguised as roughhouse, when they are the stars and movie convention demands that they get it on? There isn't a shred of chemistry between Latifah and Levy (who likes the Queen's wildness and is infatuated with her cleavage, which is understandable but shallow--his infatuation, not her cleavage). I think it's because the movie, co-produced by Latifah, was Making a Point, which is that the Rich White Lawyer had better learn to Accept this Bitch on Her Own Terms instead of Merely Caving in to Her Sex Appeal. This may be a point worth making, but not in a comedy.
I use the word "bitch" after some hesitation, to make a point: The movie is all about different ethnic styles of speech. It uses the B-word constantly (along, of course, with lots of "hos"), and I argue that since the MPAA rates the "language" PG-13, I can use it in a review. You kids under 13 who are reading this better be getting parental guidance from a POS.