Bringing Down the House (2003)

PG-13  |   |  Comedy  |  7 March 2003 (USA)
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Ratings: 5.5/10 from 29,071 users   Metascore: 39/100
Reviews: 233 user | 119 critic | 31 from

When a lonely guy meets a woman on the internet who happens to be in prison, she breaks out to be with him, and proceeds to wreak havoc on his middle-class life.



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4 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ed Tobias
Aengus James ...
Widow's Bodyguard
Widow's Bodyguard


Peter Sanderson is a divorced, straight-laced, uptight attorney who still loves his ex-wife and can't figure out what he did wrong to make her leave him. However, Peter's trying to move on, and he's smitten with a brainy, bombshell barrister he's been chatting with online. However, when she comes to his house for their first face-to-face, she isn't refined, isn't Ivy League, and isn't even a lawyer. Instead, it's Charlene, a prison escapee who's proclaiming her innocence and wants Peter to help her clear her name. But Peter wants nothing to do with her, prompting the loud and shocking Charlene to turn Peter's perfectly ordered life upside down, jeopardizing his effort to get back with his wife and woo a billion dollar client. Written by Sujit R. Varma

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Everything he needed to know about life, she learned in prison. See more »



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for language, sexual humor and drug material | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

7 March 2003 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

In the Houze  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$33,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$31,101,026 (USA) (7 March 2003)


$884,848 (South Africa) (12 September 2003)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The Russian title for the film translates as "House Upside Down". See more »


After Peter tries to lock Charlene outside of the house when he first meets her, he tackles her and then throws her in the bushes. After telling the noisy neighbor that everything is fine, Peter starts walking her back inside. From the shot outside the house, Peter has nothing in his hands. But when they step inside, he magically has one of her shoes in his hand and he sets it on the table. See more »


Ashley: [to Peter, about Charlene] What is she doin' here?
Charlene Morton: Oh, get used to it, twiggy; you're gonna be seein' a lot more of me around here!
Ashley: [to Peter, about Charlene] Not without a broom in your hand.
Charlene Morton: If I HAVE a broom, it's only cuz I'm here to sweep up the white trash!
Ashley: Save it for the Y.M.C.A, Jemimah.
Charlene Morton: Bitch! I will kick the bulimia outta yo' ass!
See more »

Crazy Credits

Thanks to residents of McCadden Place. See more »


Referenced in The 82nd Annual Academy Awards (2010) See more »


Simply Irresistible
Written and Performed by Robert Palmer
Courtesy of EMI Records
Under license from EMI Film & TV Music
See more »

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User Reviews

Very Funny and Very Enjoyable
17 May 2005 | by See all my reviews

Bringing Down the House is a very funny movie and your bound to have a good time. Peter Sanderson (Steve Martin) is a lawyer who is having trouble getting his life back on track after his wife, Kate ( Jean Smart), divorces him; he's also adjusting to his new status as a single father. Peter tries an internet dating site and virtually meets "lawyer-girl," an attractive and single fellow attorney. Peter makes a date with her, but the woman who arrives at his door turns out to be Charlene Morton (Queen Latifah), who not only isn't a lawyer, she turns out to be an escaped convict. Charlene explains to Peter that she's strung him along because she's innocent of the crime for which she was convicted, and she needs a top-notch attorney to help prove her case. After some persuasion, Peter agrees to help Charlene out. Though the plot sounds stupid, the execution turned out to be really funny. The story is a little weak though and they could have worked a little more on that. The movie isn't very realistic so you shouldn't go in expecting one. The cast is great and they make this somewhat old material funny. The funniest person is Eugene Levy and he is finally getting the recognition he deserves. Steve Martin returns for his first wide release film in four years. He doesn't disappoint and gives a very funny performance. Queen Latifah is also funny, but she also starts getting annoying by the end of the movie. Jean Smart plays the ex wife of Peter and she's pretty good. The rest of the supporting cast includes Kimberly J. Brown, Joan Plowright, Betty White and Missi Pyle. Adam Shankman directs and this is a large improvement over A Walk to Remember. The racist jokes in the film are a little outdated and sometimes this film does go over the top. I still laughed though as some of the dialog in this film is very funny. While this isn't he funniest film of 2003, its still worth watching. Its 105 minutes long and it starts getting a little boring since they add some unnecessary things. Another good thing about this film is that they didn't use all the jokes in the preview. In the end, this film is worth watching even if its not very memorable. Rating 7.4/10, a funny comedy that's worth checking out.

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Message Boards

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RACIST butterfinger
my favourite line, how about you? Kindella
He shudda ended up with Charlene because... denx
Racial? Why typecast? laurinK
Why did Steve Martin do this film? niquems
Prison Chat Rooms Mogley
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