It would be nice if the triumph of buxom Queen Latifah, she of the milk-chocolate skin and ample junk in the trunk, over skinny Victoria’s Secret cover girl Gisele Bundchen in Taxi heralded a newfound desire of Hollywood to promote healthier role models for young women. Regrettably, Tim Story’s aggressively asinine jalopy of a movie surrounds stars Latifah and Jimmy Fallon with a peripheral cast of lean, athletic, sexy model-actors who are gawked at by the director’s drooling camera. So much for any hope of promoting a new female ideal. An exhausting retread of the 1998 Luc Besson-written French blockbuster, Story’s wretched remake revolves around an inane cop named Washburn (Fallon) and a tough-talking cabbie named Belle (Latifah)—who drives a souped-up taxi and dreams of joining the NASCAR circuit—as they try to foil Bundchen’s gang of leggy bank robbers. As buddy movie regulations dictate, the squabbling duo naturally bristle at the others’ foibles while racing around New York City at lethal speeds, yet eventually learn to coexist long enough to nab their criminal mastermind adversaries. Belle teaches Washburn how to drive, Washburn proves his competence to his angry police lieutenant boss (the fetching Jennifer Esposito, strangely shoehorned into a role usually reserved for fat, middle-aged African-American men), and everyone is forced to endure former SNL star Fallon—whose zaniness emits more than a hint of pathetic desperation—strain for laughs by swallowing a throw-up burp and calling his manhood “nads.” Story’s car chases are more Dukes of Hazzard-corny than Bullitt-cool, and his shallow film’s labored attempts at titillating sexiness—climaxing in Bundchen’s lesbianish molestation of Esposito—is reminiscent of a mediocre Maxim magazine celebrity-skin spread. Confronted by this endless cycle of lame banter and implausible auto-insanity, Latifah settles into sassy, smart-mouthed cruise control, and considering how often the slow-witted Taxi stalls, it’s hard to chastise her for wanting to safely sit back, buckle up, and survive this comedic car wreck.
- 20th Century Fox
- 97 min
- Tim Story
- Robert Ben Garant, Jim Kouf, Thomas Lennon
- Queen Latifah, Jimmy Fallon, Jennifer Esposito, Gisele Bundchen, Henry Simmons, Ana Cristina De Oliveira, Ingrid Vandebosch, Ann-Margret
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