5.6/10
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Bringing Down the House (2003)

PG-13 | | Comedy | 7 March 2003 (USA)
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When a lonely guy meets a woman on the internet who happens to be in prison, she breaks out to get him to prove her innocence, and proceeds to wreak havoc on his middle-class life.

Director:

Adam Shankman

Writer:

Jason Filardi
4 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Steve Martin ... Peter Sanderson
Queen Latifah ... Charlene Morton
Eugene Levy ... Howie Rottman
Joan Plowright ... Virginia Arness
Jean Smart ... Kate Sanderson
Kimberly J. Brown ... Sarah Sanderson
Angus T. Jones ... Georgey Sanderson
Missi Pyle ... Ashley
Michael Rosenbaum ... Todd Gendler
Betty White ... Mrs. Kline
Steve Harris ... Widow
Jim Haynie ... Ed Tobias
Aengus James Aengus James ... Mike
Jernard Burks ... Widow's Bodyguard
Bronzell Miller ... 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 won a billion dollar client. Written by Sujit R. Varma

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Bring it. March 7. See more »

Genres:

Comedy

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

7 March 2003 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

In the Houze See more »

Filming Locations:

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$33,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$31,101,026, 9 March 2003, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$132,716,677

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$164,729,679
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Steve Martin, Angus T. Jones and Missi Pyle are from Texas. Queen Latifah is from New Jersey, Eugene Levy is from Canada, Jean Smart is from Washington, Kimberly J. Brown is from Maryland, and Joan Plowright is from England. See more »

Goofs

When Charlene is talking to Widow for the first time beside the pool, the water of the pool is very active. When Charlene comes inside after the chat, the water is perfectly still. See more »

Quotes

Mrs. Kline: Mr. Sanderson! Is everything okay? I thought I heard Negro!
See more »

Crazy Credits

Thanks to residents of McCadden Place. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Kickin' It: Bringing Down the House (2015) See more »

Soundtracks

Let Go
Written by Just Blaze, Eve and Frankie Beverly
Produced by Just Blaze
Performed by Eve
Courtesy of Ruff Ryders/Interscope Records
Contains a sample from "Before I Let Go" (1981)
Performed by Maze featuring Frankie Beverly
Courtesy of Capitol Records
Under license from EMI Film & TV Music
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Light sketch comedy/drama
10 February 2005 | by BrandtSponsellerSee all my reviews

Tax lawyer Peter Sanderson (Steve Martin) has been falling for Charlene Morton (Queen Latifah) over the Internet. She's sent him a picture of herself, but she was just a tiny figure in the background, being led out of a courthouse in jail clothes and cuffs by two cops, while in the foreground, there was a young, thin, white yuppie-looking female lawyer talking to a reporter. Sanderson believes that Charlene is the yuppie and arranges a date. Of course he's surprised at Charlene's appearance (Latifah is black, "thick" and streetwise in the film) and the fact that she's a con who has done time. Charlene's motivation is to acquire affordable, quality legal services to clean up her record--she swears she's innocent.

Ostensibly a film that would comically explore the serious issue of racism (and other kinds of appearance preconceptions) between two very different communities, Bringing Down the House is more a series of loosely tied gags. It plays like a sketch film, with the theme/subtext as a unifying factor. At that, the gags or sketches are mostly successful, although the film is not quite funny enough to work as an outrageous comedy and not quite serious enough to work as a "message film", even though it may occasionally come close on both accounts.

The three members of the principle cast--Martin, Latifah and Eugene Levy--are good, with Levy being underused, but for me, some of the best material arrived with the supporting cast. Joan Plowright as the wealthy Mrs. Arness, Kimberly J. Brown as Peter's former sister-in-law Sarah, and Betty White as Mrs. Kline, Peter's neighbor all routinely stole the show when they appeared. They were given the most outrageous material, with Arness and Kline being particularly racist. White's character is similar in tone to her excellent supporting role in Lake Placid (1999), although she was underused here.

For some, it may be an asset that the film tries to veer away from becoming cartoonish. I think it would have benefited from moving further into absurdist territory--for my tastes, even though Martin has had many great films, he has never surpassed The Jerk (1979), but that's too much of a personal preference for me to really count it as a flaw. It's also interesting that scripter Jason Filardi tries to work in a mostly serious crime/drama subplot towards the climax, but it's a bit too little, too late, and is an odd change of tone, even though the comedy bits surrounding the subplot are good. On the serious side, other than the material about racism, the strongest aspect is that Charlene teaches Peter how to be a better parent and family man. A couple scenes on that end were actually moving.

Overall, Bringing Down the House is a bit of a mixed bag, but approached as a light "sketch comedy/drama", it is entertaining. My rating occasionally leaned towards a 7, but remained closer to a 7.5 or 8.


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