Friday, September 16, 2011

Day 259: Taxi (2004)

PG-13, 1 hr. 37 min.  Directed by: Tim Story.  Release Date: October 6, 2004.   DVD Release Date: February 15, 2005.

Into every actor's life, a bad movie must eventually fall.  Taxi is living proof of that adage's applicability to Jimmy Fallon, Queen Latifah, and well, everyone who appeared in this for longer than three minutes.  What could these people have been thinking?  There's little to praise in this film, which appears to be to movies what the Swedish Bikini Team was to 1980s beer commercials. 

Queen Latifah, a much-loved favorite on TGMP, despite her penchant for bad movies, seems to be bent on self-destruction after a series of terrible, terrible films in the middle Aughties.  There's no shortage of affection here for the divine Ms. Latifah, and in the right part, she really shines, but this was not the right part.  Her pairing with Jimmy Fallon was likely inspired by The Odd Couple, but came out looking like something inspired by something more Twilight Zone-y.  Latifah needs a more solid, less frantic co-star in order to get a decent performance going, and Fallon is incapable, for all intents and purposes, of providing that support.  

There's been significant discussion here on TGMP about a film writer's ability to suspend disbelief.  Taxi's stunts and story actually creates disbelief.  In what world are we expected to believe in Queen Latifah, a bicycle messenger who recently transitions into a cab driver (after a three year process) with aspirations to be a NASCAR driver...  Arm her with a souped up, after-market modified Yellow Cab that does everything but transform into a robot warrior to assist her in taking down a band of very pale, very blonde, Portuguese-speaking supermodels, and you have a recipe for disbelief.

When was the last time you saw a car chase that wasn't on one of the endless Fasterest & Furiosterest movies?  When was the last time you saw a car chase that was obviously done with something other than real cars, real drivers, and maybe not real streets, but certainly tracks designed to look like streets?  The joy of movie magic is not being able to figure out exactly how the stunts and special effects were made, and Taxi sucks that joy from its audience until there's nothing left.

There's still a lot of love here for Queen Latifah, but there's also a lot of hope that in the future she picks movies that are more entertaining and less stupid wastes of rental money.