||read the review
Review by Harvey Karten
1 star out of 4
In an early scene, a police lieutenant (Jennifer Esposito) who
looks like no police officer you've ever seen states that Officer
Washburn (Jimmy Fallon) is a "good cop." Yet there's not a
single move or sentence uttered by Washburn that would give
credence to the lieutenant's notion. In fact Lieutenant Robbins
must have been high when she said this, since every time she
and Washburn are in the same room, you can bet that she'll
offer a more scathing review of his work than critics have written
about "Showgirls." Not much of the other elements of the movie
work either, notwithstanding a good try by Belle (Queen Latifah)
to mine humor from behind the wheel in her own taxi or director
Tim Story's entire vehicle.
The paper thin plot is designed simply to provide for an
abundance of car chases, car crack-ups, one explosion, at least
one shot of a vehicle's going so fast that it literally flies over a
gap in a bridge–supposedly one that links Brooklyn and
Manhattan but who knows? Most of the pic was filmed in L.A.
The villains are a quartet of Brazilian women, at least one of
whom (Gisele Bundchen) is a real-life supermodel. After Officer
Washburn loses his license for the driving in a way that most
six-year-old could do better and safer, he commanders a brand
new taxi driven by a woman who has finally received her hack
license after being a record-breaking bike messenger for a
courier service. At each other's throats for a good part of the
pic, the two bond as they chase villains, enjoy the company of
Washburn's mother (played by Ann-Margret in a role so
embarrassing it's tempting to close the eyes and cover the
ears), and express diverse opinions of Belle's driving in a cab
that seems designed for the next James Bond movie.
For romance, we're told that Washburn and Lt. Robbins once
had a thing at police academy but Washburn continues to act so
much like the dumbest cop on the force that what he considers
to be the remains of sexual tension is judged by Belle to be
nothing more than just plain tension. Also Belle has a tall,
handsome boyfriend, Jesse (Henry Simmons), who regularly
cools his heels at upscale restaurants while waiting for the love
of his life to finish her overtimes assignments.
Tim Story, whose "Barbershop" was no candidate for an Oscar
but at least had more than two or three inspired moments,
depends on stunt action involving Belle's taxi and the Brazilians'
Beemer, but after a while, what passes for conversation
between Belle and Washburn is as redundant and predictable
as the near-vehicular homicides resulting from the chases.
Washburn, like the movie, is a washout.
Copyright © 2004 Harvey Karten