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  • Bringing Down the House

    Posted in: Disc Reviews by David Annandale on August 27th, 2003

    (out of 5)



    Steve Martin plays a tax lawyer who has let his job consume his life. This has already costhim his marriage, and might soon cost him his children. He engages in some chat room romance,but the woman he meets isn’t the blond lawyer he was expecting, but escaped con Queen Latifah,out to clear her name. She turns his life upside down, but all for the better, naturally. A good-natured, but hardly side-splitting comedy, with most of its big laughs given away in the trailer….The ever-dependable Eugene Levy livens things up with his mere presence.


    Decent, but unspectacular, and afflicted with a couple of surprising flaws. The music soundsgood, and the hip-hop is given an especially strong beat. However, the music only really kicksinto gear about 12 minutes into the film, when the rear speakers suddenly (and for no apparentreason) spring to startling life. Until then, the surround mix was rather lackluster. There are somenice surround moments with the sound effects (a bullet ricochet is particularly good), but by andlarge the effects are muted. Even more surprisingly, the dialogue develops a slight buzz in someof the shouting scenes.


    A 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer (a fullscreen version is available as a separatepurchase). The colours have warm earth tones in the interiors, and are bright and lush in exteriorscenes. The blacks are strong, as are the contrasts, and the night scenes look very good. The fleshtones are dead-on as well. There is some minor grain, however, and the picture is a bit on thesoft side. It lacks the sharpness one would expect on a major release.

    Special Features

    The commentary by director Adam Shankman and writer Jason Filardi is very informal,which is fine if you like listening to two friends ramble on, but they clearly didn’t put a lot ofpreparation into this, as they chow down on chocolate bars and are sometimes at a loss for thingsto say. There is some good background info here, but you have to dig for it. “Breaking Down‘Burning Down the House’” is yet another standard-issue featurette. Rather more amusing is“The Godfather of Hop” — a phony profile of Eugene Levy that posits him as the originator ofrap. There are also seven deleted scenes, a Queen Latifah video (“Better than the Rest”), and agag reel (only fitfully amusing, and the sound of the voices is abysmal). There’s also one of thoseLion King trailers that plays as soon as you load the DVD. The menu is the full mealdeal, busily animated and scored in almost all respects.

    Closing Thoughts

    Didn’t Steve Martin already make this movie with Goldie Hawn? Anyway, this is mildlyfunny in the manner of Father of the Bride with a bit more slapstick.

    Special Features List

    • Audio Commentary
    • Deleted Scenes
    • Gag Reel
    • Queen Latifah Video
    • Featurette
    • Eugene Levy Featurette
    • Lion King Trailer
    Posted In: Buena Vista, Comedy, Disc Reviews, Dolby Digital 5.1 (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (French), DVD

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