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Peter Sanderson, Steve Martin, is an overworked and ambitious tax lawyer, separated from his wife, Jean Smart. He?s tantalised by an on-line relationship with ?lawyergirl? who admits she has ?a dark side?. Constantly letting down his kids because of his infatuation and because of his determination to woo a million-dollar client, Mrs Arness - Joan Plowright - for his company, Peter is horrified, dumbfounded, panicked when ?laywergirl? turns out to be Charlene, Queen Latifah. She?s an escaped con who claims she was unfairly convicted and wants his help to clear her name. As she says ?Tax lawyers are criminal lawyers.? She embarrasses him into taking on her case and putting her up in his house where she proceeds to turn his life upside-down. I have to admit to a prejudice here. I?m a fan of Steve Martin, I think he?s a real talent. But talent is always at the mercy of the material and the director. And that includes Queen Latifah who was one of the Executive Producers of the film. This comedy has been coyly written by Jason Filardi, it?s his first produced screenplay, and rather crassly directed by Adam Shankman who made The Wedding Planner. But despite some cringe-making scenes ? Charlene acting the maid for Mrs Arness; Charlene trying to teach Peter about seduction; Peter being taught dancing at a hip-hop club- there are some funny moments in Bringing Down the House. Martin?s talent is irrepressible and Queen Latifah shows warmth and earthiness as Charlene. And solid in the cast is Eugene Levy who plays one of Peter?s work colleagues who falls for Charlene. Comments by David StrattonSteve Martin and Queen Latifah are both very funny, and there's a terrific premise here. But director Adam Shankman fails to make the most of the idea, and indulges far too often in pointless scenes, like the extended fight between Latifah and Missi Pyle. The sentimentality that rears its ugly head in the second half is no help either. Joan Plowright has her moments, but this is a good opportunity largely missed.

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