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Bringing Down the House (2003)

 -  Comedy  -  7 March 2003 (USA)
5.5
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Ratings: 5.5/10 from 26,971 users   Metascore: 39/100
Reviews: 232 user | 125 critic | 31 from Metacritic.com

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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Cast

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

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

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Comedy

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

7 March 2003 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

In the Houze  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$33,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$360,146 (South Africa) (8 August 2003)

Gross:

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

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Producers wanted the "Ebonics" that was spoken in the movie to be current and relevant to the time period in which the movie was released. This proved to be difficult as words take on different meaning to become Ebonics almost everyday. (Whatever words they used during filming might not have been in circulation by the time the film was released.) In order to play it safe, some of the Ebonics spoken in the movie was made up by the actors on the spot. See more »

Goofs

The cable to the squib is seen running down from Charlene's foot as she falls backward on the couch in slow motion. See more »

Quotes

Ashley: Compliments of Tae-Bo: 2 hours a day 5 days a week
Charlene Morton: Compliments of the hood: 24 hours a day all my life!
See more »

Crazy Credits

Thanks to residents of McCadden Place. See more »

Connections

References Mandingo (1975) See more »

Soundtracks

Move Somethin'
Written by Obi Nwobosi, Ainz Prasad and Mr. Cheeks (as Terrence Kelly)
Performed by Mr. Cheeks
Courtesy of Universal Records
See more »

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User Reviews

the stars steal the show
10 May 2003 | by (United States) – See all my reviews



`Bringing Down the House' is the latest variation on that old comic chestnut in which a wisecracking, free-spirit type from `the lower social orders' invades the life of an uptight stuffed-shirt type - not only getting him to loosen up that collar and shed his inhibitions but also showing him a thing or two about what really matters in life. This is, basically, a primer for a Culture Clash Comedy 101 course, with a couple of veteran comic professors on hand to teach us all how it's done.

In this case, Steve Martin plays the uptight lawyer who is so obsessed with his career that he has already lost his wife over the issue and appears on the road to alienating his children as well. When Peter meets what he believes is a potential love interest in an internet chat room, he figures his life just might be turning around for the better. Peter is all set for a romantic evening – champagne, dim lights, `A Man and a Woman' playing softly in the background – when, at his door, who should appear but that Big Bad Mama, Queen Latifah, as Charlene Morton, an ex-convict who wants Peter to help her expunge from her record the crime she swears she did not commit. Peter is at first reluctant to accept this strange woman into his house and life, but Charlene is nothing if not persistent and she manages to horn her way in anyway.

The Jason Filardi screenplay pretty much plays it all by rote. We know, despite their tremendous differences in culture, background and personality, that these two comic titans will end up as great pals by the story's end. Nothing about `Bringing Down the House' surprises us, yet there is a certain amount of comfort to be derived from familiarity and predictability. It's an old formula but one that works fairly well here, thanks, primarily, to the assured, high-energy performances of Martin and Latifah in the starring roles. These two comic masters achieve a real chemistry working together, enough to compensate for the broad stereotyping that permeates the film. Filardi does achieve some moments of genuine hilarity by mixing slapstick and social satire in roughly equal measure. The satire isn't on a very high level of sophistication but it is good enough for a mass audience venture such as this one.

Director Adam Shankman is also blessed with a strong supporting cast that includes Eugene Levy as a nerdish - but `freaky' - business associate obsessed with wild black women like Charlene; Joan Plowright as a snooty, eccentric matron whose account Peter is determined to win for his firm; and Bette White as Peter's bigoted next door neighbor who is eyeing askance all the strange goings-on at the lawyer's house.

`Bringing Down the House' is at its best when it simply lets itself go, forgets about the plot, and allows its performers to dazzle us with their sheer likeability, i.e., Martin and Latifah dancing up a storm at an L.A. bistro, Martin breaking out into a spontaneous break dance routine while infiltrating an all-black nightclub. It is at its worst in the final scenes when the heavy-handed plot mechanics threaten to torpedo the whole project. Luckily, we have Martin and Latifah to help keep the thing afloat. The vehicle itself may creak at times, but the stars never do.


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