Film — Taxi (PG-13)
by Amy Diaz
Queen Latifah slums it yet again in the studiously unfunny cop-buddy comedy Taxi.
Yes, studiously. I believe this movie made a concerted effort not to be funny. It looked at all the angles, figured out which way every scene could go and then, without fail, picked the straightest possible path though the comedy minefields, expertly dodging every joke, every sight-gag, every potential source of humor.
Seldom has a movie seemed to work this hard for such a lousy result.
Certainly, it toiled tirelessly on stunts, such as the opening scenes which have bike messenger Belle (Queen Latifah) racing through the streets of New York City in an attempt to win a bet with her messenger colleagues. It’s her last day before heading to the lush life of being a cabbie in her ultra-modified taxi complete with Jersey plates so the cops won’t know who’s outrunning them. Of course one of her first passengers is a cop, Washburn (Jimmy Fallon), an under-cover detective with an impressive capacity for causing disaster, especially when he gets behind the wheel of his car. In fact, he’s caused so many car accidents that his lieutenant—and former girlfriend—Marta (Jennifer Esposito) takes away his license and puts him back on beat patrol. So when he hears over his radio about a bank robbery in process he has no choice but to commandeer a cab. Of course, Belle would never let her cab be commandeered; however, Washburn does promise her that she’ll get to drive as fast and as recklessly as she wants. Naturally, this speed freak takes the bait and off they go in hot pursuit of four supermodel-esque bank robbers who befuddle police officers by dressing skimpily and showing them suitcases full of panties.
That’s right, the plot of this movie does indeed include a suitcase full of panties.
And yet, Taxi is stupid for reasons that have nothing to do with lingerie. I grant you that it would have been hard to make this movie funny at all but again the movie does go to lengths to keep any semblance of humor from sneaking in. Queen Latifah? Can be funny. Not here, however. Fallon? Yep, funny. Nope, not here. Esposito did some good work on Spin City. Here? Nothing. Ann-Margaret planning Fallon’s drunk mom? Sounds funny, but no.
Car chases, supermodels, improbable stunts, romantic misunderstandings—none of it is funny. And sure, I can see how some of it might not be funny. I can understand how the comedy may be weak or sporadic but, and I can’t emphasize this enough, not one single thing in Taxi is funny. Ever.
If I knew Queen Latifah needed money this badly, I’d have bought more of her CDs.
Showing at: Cinemagic, Flagship Cinemas.
- Amy Diaz
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