Bringing Down the House
Time Out saysHip black person bursts into the life of stuck-up white person and shakes it all up. Yes, we've seen it before. This comedy, though, is made of more provocative stuff. Its aggressive, racial-slur-based humour is liable to offend many, or at least leave them cold. Stiff lawyer Peter (Martin) meets brash ex-con Charlene (Latifah) in an online legal chat room and agrees to a date in the belief that she's the slim blonde in her photo. Threatening a scene unless the aghast Peter puts her up, Charlene swaps lessons in street cred for his legal advice. She even agrees to pose as his cook and nanny. Eventually, he is astounded (and charmed) to discover her intelligence, a shock the audience is apparently expected to share rather than mock. The discomfort created by this double stereotyping (all whites are racist; all blacks liars) is only sporadically abated by Levy's appearances as Peter's wannabe homie colleague. Apparently, this crushingly unsubtle comedy of differences has had racially diverse audiences rolling in the aisles in America.