Film Reviews

TAXI

By • Oct 8th, 2004 •

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QUOTE: While Queen Latifah is irresistible, this movie is terrible.

New York City police detective Washburn (Jimmy Fallon) is an incompetent cop; however, his past relationship with Lieutenant Marta Robbins (Jennifer Esposito) appears to keep him from getting fired for gross misconduct as well as banging up cars and destroying citizen property. He gets his partner shot. Deprived of his driver’s license due to poor driving skills (a nauseating reference throughout), Washburn commandeers a taxi driven by Belle (Queen Latifah) to apprehend a gang of Brazilian supermodel bank robbers led by Vanessa (Giselle Bundchen).

Continuing on to the unlikeliest of events, Belle and Washburn hunt down the bank robbers by careening through New York City streets.

Fallon’s strategy for international stardom involved constant Page Six mentions, a fury of high-profile dates and appearances, and being touted as Saturday Night Live’s only certified sex symbol. (This is what you pay PR firms $4,000 a month for.) I knew it was only a matter of time before his people positioned him for movies.

Trouble is, TAXI is not a good vehicle for Fallon. From the start Washburn is so goofy and ill-prepared to be a cop that he alienated me from liking him. He’s insufferable. And what was with his murdering of a great song? I’m tired of this singing-in-a-car scene. The movie only worked when he was off camera. Latifah’s charm, reaction shots, and easy-going manner are quite seductive and redeems the movie. I liked the scenes with her very hot, sincere boyfriend Jesse (Henry Simmons).

Now on to Bundchen. Past modeling press on Leo’s girlfriend was awful. Former Elite boss John Casablanca called her a “monster of selfishness.” (I repeat it here because it is so catchy.) As with other foreign supermodels, Giselle has the poor sense to come off as arrogant in interviews. I think it is because – even though they are gorgeous and rich – supermodels are also freakishly tall women.) Like supermodels Cindy Crawford and Claudia Schieffer, Bundchen wants to be in movies. I’m being literal here: I did not say she wants to be an actress which is an entirely different profession. Here Bundchen’s handlers chose a small, non-intrusive role (unlike Crawford’s end of career role in FAIR PLAY). Bundchen is introduced to the movie-going public, can begin her movie resume, and can do all the publicity she wants. She can talk about her role.

Bundchen actually does a nice job. Let’s hope she stays away from Brigitte Nielsen’s game book. She is a strong-featured woman and the role of a sexy, tough bank robber was prefect for her. Also, she didn’t have to do any acting and she spoke mainly Portuguese. She seemed to be having fun and not taking herself too seriously. Giselle is certainly on her way. Why not take some acting lessons and work in a few Brazilian films?

We have body doubles and stunt doubles. Why not voice doubles for these heavily-accented models and foreign stars who insist on being in American movies? (I’m on a campaign for Penelope Cruz to get herself a voice double. Why won’t anyone listen to me!)

While the movie highlights the adorable Latifah and doesn’t rely on Bundchen, it should stall Fallon’s movie career. If this is the image Fallon thinks will endear him to the movie-going public, it is an ill-conceived one. You would think that years on SNL surrounded by writers would have given Fallon a better roadmap to stardom.

The direction and car chases are excellent. Too bad movie audiences are far too sophisticated in police work to follow this travesty.

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