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"BRINGING DOWN THE HOUSE"
(2003) (Steve Martin, Queen Latifah) (PG-13)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Heavy Minor Extreme Moderate Heavy
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Heavy None Mild *None Moderate
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Heavy *None Moderate Moderate *Heavy


QUICK TAKE:
Comedy: A tax attorney finds his life turned upside down when an escaped con infiltrates his life and wants his legal help.
PLOT:
Peter Sanderson (STEVE MARTIN) is a constantly busy and thus divorced tax attorney who's met a woman in a law chat room. While preparing for their first meeting, he has to fend off a young upstart, Todd Gendler (MICHAEL ROSENBAUM), from landing a lucrative account with coffee heiress Mrs. Virginia Arness (JOAN PLOWRIGHT). Quick on his feet, Peter manages to do just that, although he's fully aware of the 74-year-old's staunch conservatism.

Peter's dexterity around dicey conditions is challenged, however, when his blind Internet date turns out to be a convict, Charlene Morton (QUEEN LATIFAH). Not only is he upset that she was charged and sentenced for armed robbery, but that this young, black urban woman is not the professional, middle-aged white one he believed. Meanwhile, she's upset that he's not the criminal lawyer as he led her to believe.

He wants her to leave immediately, but eventually puts her up for the night when she makes a scene that he worries might alert his racist neighbor, Mrs. Kline (BETTY WHITE), who just so happens to be the sister to one of his bosses at work. She then manages to infiltrate herself deeper into his life - including visiting him at work where his partner, Howie Rottman (EUGENE LEVY), is entranced by her - and refuses to leave until he agrees to help her and prove her innocence.

He reluctantly does so but must focus on getting Mrs. Arness to sign a contract with his firm. That results in Charlene having to put on various demeaning acts of servitude and deal with racist behavior from her and Peter's ex-sister-in-law, Ashley (MISSI PYLE).

At the same time, Charlene starts to enlighten him about her culture, as well as ways to reconnect with his kids, Sarah (KIMBERLY J. BROWN) and Georgey (ANGUS T. JONES), and ex-wife, Kate (JEAN SMART). As he does just that, he then sets out to help Charlene out of her legal mess, which eventually leads to his contact with her former boyfriend and current thug, Widow (STEVE HARRIS).

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
If they're fans of anyone in the cast or culture clash comedies, they just might.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: PG-13
For language, sexual humor and drug material.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • STEVE MARTIN plays a tax attorney who's upset when his blind Internet date turns out to be someone completely different than he was expecting. He eventually comes to like Charlene, however, but doesn't defend her dignity in the face of accepting racism for a lucrative business contract, although he later helps her.
  • QUEEN LATIFAH plays an escaped convict who claims she's innocent of armed robbery. She uses profanity and infiltrates herself into Peter's life so that he'll help her legal cause. She also enlightens him about her cultural ways as well as how to reconnect with his family.
  • EUGENE LEVY plays Peter's business associate who's instantly enamored with Charlene.
  • JOAN PLOWRIGHT plays a stuffy and racist, 74-year-old coffee heiress whose business Peter wants to land. She ends up smoking some pot with two strangers and gets high.
  • JEAN SMART plays Peter's ex-wife who still has a thing for him, but hates that he always puts business ahead of her and their kids.
  • KIMBERLY J. BROWN plays their teenage daughter who sneaks off at night to go to parties.
  • ANGUS T. JONES plays her younger brother.
  • MISSI PYLE plays Kate's gold digger sister who's mean and nasty toward Peter, and racist toward Charlene, with whom she briefly fights.
  • MICHAEL ROSENBAUM plays a young tax attorney who's vying for Peter's accounts.
  • BETTY WHITE plays Peter's racist neighbor.
  • STEVE HARRIS plays Charlene's former boyfriend and current thug who uses profanity and repeatedly threatens Peter with a gun.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    Here's a brief summary of the content found in this comedy that's been rated PG-13. Profanity consists of at least 5 "s" words, while other expletives (including slang for sex) and colorful phrases are also used. Various instances of sexually related dialogue are present, a young boy looks through a porno magazine (a woman has her hand over her bare breast on the cover), a woman shows a man how to talk and act nasty with his wife (with some physical, but clothed contact) and some women are briefly seen in somewhat revealing attire.

    Various characters have varying degrees of bad attitudes, including racist and other demeaning ones (although they're played for laughs). A thug threatens a man with a gun (to his face) and tries to shoot and kill a woman (a cell phone blocks the bullet from killing her). Meanwhile, a brutal but comedic fight occurs between two women and some other hitting occurs.

    Some brief drug use is present (pot), while various characters drink (including underage students) and one is drunk. Various forms of imitative behavior are present, as is some brief crude humor and some tense family material regarding divorced parents and a father being too busy for his kids.

    Should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home, you may want to look more closely at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.

    For those concerned with flashes of light on the screen, some brief and partial strobe-like effects occur late in the film during a club scene.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Howie asks Peter if he wants to go and "tie one on" (drink).
  • Peter pours two glasses of champagne for himself and Charlene.
  • Ashley pours champagne for herself.
  • Various people drink at a party and Peter catches his 15-year-old daughter about to drink a beer (as he walks away, he tells her not to inhale - but we don't see any such drug use).
  • Howie wants Charlene to have a cocktail with him (we don't see them doing that).
  • Kate and her boyfriend have wine.
  • Peter tells Ashley to go back to the Vodka bottle she crawled out of.
  • People have drinks in a club/restaurant including Peter and Charlene who have wine (and Ashley and Kate have martinis). Later, when they return home, Peter is drunk.
  • Various underage students drink at a party. Later, Peter talks to Sarah about students who were drinking and "tripping on E" (ecstasy), although we didn't see any of the latter.
  • Charlene states that any white person at a certain club is a cop, corpse or crack-head.
  • Todd pours what looks like brandy for Mrs. Arness.
  • Various people drink in a club where two men pass a joint back and forth past Mrs. Arness (who ordered a double seven & seven). They eventually ask her if she wants to take a hit and she finally does (and then again). Later, she's quite high from that (saying she's stoned) and later says she has the munchies (saying she's hungry).
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • Ashley has a bad black eye from a fight with Charlene.
  • Mad at the way Mrs. Arness is treating her, Charlene puts laxative into her food. Unaware of that, Peter switches plates with Mrs. Arness when she says it's too much food for her. After a while, we hear all sorts of intestinal distress sounds and Peter then gets up from the table and races off to the bathroom (we don't see any more of him).
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Mrs. Kline has an old-school racist attitude about anyone who's not white or rich (all played for comedy), saying if a Latino is in their neighborhood without a leaf blower, they don't belong. She also says she thought she heard "Negro" being spoken at night and later tells Georgey (who's her young friend) that he looks like "a fag."
  • Ashley has a bad and mean attitude toward Peter as well as a racist one toward Charlene (several times and calls her "Aunt Jemima").
  • Charlene repeatedly hounds Peter to help her reopen her criminal case and even throws a wild and large party at his house without his knowledge.
  • We later learn that Charlene broke out of prison (to contest her armed robbery conviction).
  • Peter occasionally uses urban slang to refer to black people (and they don't like that, such as him saying he wants Charlene and her "dawgs" to go back to "the pound").
  • For those who don't like gambling, there's a brief scene at a party where people are playing for money and they even have young Georgey rolling the dice.
  • 15-year-old Sarah sneaks out of the house and goes off with a boy in his car at night. Later, she and a boy lie to Peter about dating so that she can leave with him and then crawl into the backseat with another boy.
  • Charlene has Georgey practice reading from a porno magazine she found in Peter's bedroom.
  • When Peter asks Charlene about his awkward/goofy dancing, she says that it's good for an epileptic.
  • We hear that a boy got rough with Sarah after she said no to having sex with him.
  • Mrs. Arness snoops through Peter's mail when he steps away for a moment. Later, she acts in a racist and demeaning way toward Charlene (who she thinks is the nanny/server) and even sings an old slave song (a "Negro spiritual" which has the line, "Momma, is master gonna sell us tomorrow?") in front of her. Peter and his kids then don't have the courage to stand up to her (since Peter needs her as a client) about what she's saying and doing.
  • A thug acts menacingly toward Peter and repeatedly aims his gun at his head.
  • Howie and Charlene kidnap Mrs. Arness and her dog.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • A thug holds a gun to Peter's head in his car, threatening him to drop Charlene's case. He then slams Peter's head against the steering wheel twice. Peter then throws the car in reverse and then forward, causing the thug to fall out into the parking lot as Peter speeds away.
  • A thug holds a gun to Peter's head. He then throws Peter to the floor and holds a gun on Charlene. Peter then elbows the thug who drops his gun. Howie picks it up and aims it at the thug and others, but Peter bumps him and the gun goes off. Charlene punches the thug, they struggle and he backhands her. She then punches him in the chest and hits him on the back. She's about to hit him with a chair when he aims his gun at her. He then shoots Charlene in the chest (but a cell phone blocks the shot), Howie tackles him and some FBI agents hold guns on the thug.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Handguns: Used to threaten and shoot at others. See "Violence" for details.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "Bitches don't care about that sh*t," "Bullsh*t," "I like my Jello to jiggle" (Howie about his taste in women), "Jeez," "It's me, fool," "Bomb ass," "Broad" (woman), "Sucker," "Sorry ass," "Speak of the dummy," "Jerk off" (noun), "What the hell is going on here?" "Swing it, you cocoa goddess," "Oh, hell no," "Iron ass," "You can kiss my natural black ass," "Honky," "You are some kind of freaky," "You have me straight tripping, boo," "Bitch," "I'll kick the bulimia out of your ass," "You messed with the wrong WASP bitch," "Fag," "I don't want you to freak out," "This place is banging," "I get a wedgie just walking through your office," "Once you go black, you never go back," "Nancy boy," "Bitch slapping," "What the hell does that mean?" "Shut up," "Punk," "Home boys," "Keep talking, tea bag," "Cracker," "Damn freak" and "You are some kind of freak."
  • Readers should note that there were various slang terms that we did not understand/hear completely that might contain or pertain to objectionable material
  • Peter puts down Todd by taking a drink of water in the middle of saying "Your youth definitely makes you an ass…et."
  • 15-year-old Sarah sneaks out of the house and goes off with a boy in his car at night. Later, she and a boy lie to Peter about dating so that she can leave with him and then crawl into the backseat with another boy.
  • During a fight (played for laughs), Charlene dunks Ashley's head in a public toilet.
  • Charlene has a tattoo on the top her breast while her old boyfriend has large spider web tattoos on his arms.
  • Charlene holds a guy over the edge of a building by his feet to make him say he's sorry for getting rough with Sarah when she said no to having sex with him.
  • Mad at the way Mrs. Arness is treating her, Charlene puts laxative into her food.
  • Peter adjusts his own crotch while dressed like a young white rapper.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • A mild amount of such music plays in certain scenes.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None, but some songs had lyrics that couldn't be understood, thus offering the possibility of potentially objectionable lyrics being in them.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 5 "s" words, 5 slang terms for sex ("nail," "hitting that ass," "humping" and "doing"), 1 slang term for breasts ("rack"), 11 asses, 7 damns, 7 hells, 1 incomplete S.O.B., 3 uses of "Oh God," 2 each of God" and "Oh my God" and 1 use of "G-damn" as exclamations.
  • Readers should note that there were various slang terms that we did not understand/hear completely that might contain or pertain to objectionable material
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • Readers should note that there were various slang terms that we did not understand/hear completely that might contain or pertain to objectionable material
  • After hearing that Peter has met a woman online, Howie asks, "When do you nail her?"
  • Kate shows some cleavage.
  • Charlene talks about "booty" and shakes hers when first meeting Peter.
  • Charlene makes a scene to embarrass Peter in his neighborhood by saying he's the father of her baby. She refers to herself as his beautiful African queen and makes a reference about something behind curved (possibly referring to his genitals). She later tells him it won't look good for him about trying to find "boom boom in the federal pen." Later, she tells him not to get any ideas about sneaking into her room and "hitting this ass."
  • Ashley complains to Kate about a date saying she wasn't going to sleep with the man and that she's not a hooker.
  • We briefly see some women in bikinis at a party.
  • Howie is excited upon first meeting Charlene, asks her to have a drink with him and then asks if he likes raw oysters (innuendo).
  • We see Kate and her younger boyfriend in a motel/hotel room where he tickles her while she's on the phone and then gets on the bed waiting for her (both are dressed).
  • Peter lists the various charges that had been brought against Charlene, one of which involved "scrotum crushing."
  • Ashley shows cleavage and we later see the bare side of her hip in her bathing suit as she hangs by her clothes from a hook high above the floor.
  • Peter discovers Georgey reading his porno magazine (that Charlene found in Peter's bedroom) called "Giant Juggez." On the cover is a torso shot of a woman holding her hand over her obviously bare breast. The boy tries to read the passage and states, "I put my mouth on her nip..." and Charlene finishes that with "ple." Moments later, the boy asks Peter, "Dad, what's a rack?" and Peter replies that it's a country (Iraq).
  • Sarah and a boy lie to Peter about dating so that she can leave with him but then crawl into the backseat with another boy (we don't see what they do back there beyond kissing as the scene ends).
  • Charlene shows cleavage in various scenes.
  • Charlene tries to show Peter how to dance and tells him not to do so with his brain but instead with his hips. She then says, "Show me how you made those kids." He then does more goofy (nonsexual) dancing.
  • Later, they return home and he's drunk. She tries to get him to practice talking nasty to Kate by doing so to a non-human sculpture. He does a bad job and Charlene says that a woman wants "a man who knows how to ride her when she bucks." He says he can't to the sculpture, so she says use me. She then has him grab her clothed breasts, but he still goofs up his dirty talk lines. He then says, "I'm gonna have sexual intercourse with you." She then reprimands him and says he need "cajones grandes" (big balls) and then hands him two large balls (softball sized) that he puts down into his pants. He then shows off that new bulge in his pants and makes a comment about "get to humping." He then jumps on top of her on the sofa, but then falls off. She then spanks him on this clothed butt and then straddles his crotch on the sofa and begins to gyrate on top of him (both are clothed). She says he found his balls and he replies that he has his own balls. The neighbor lady then enters with Georgey and both see this scene.
  • When word gets out about that, Peter tells one of his bosses, "I'm not humping my nanny."
  • Sarah tells Charlene that a boy got rough with her in a bedroom after she said no to having sex with him (we don't see the incident). Later, Peter talks to Sarah about that where the boy "tried to get all up in that" (sexual).
  • We see that Georgey is reading the "Juggez" magazine again (but don't see any photos).
  • A woman dances with Peter in an urban club and does some suggestive pelvic thrusting.
  • Some women show cleavage.
  • Howie jokes that he's going to have to give Charlene a nasty spanking.
  • When Ashley comes out of an office with an older man (who has lipstick on his cheek and neck), Peter asks her, "Who are you doing here?" As she walks away, she adjusts the front and back of her dress (meaning she was undressed).
  • SMOKING
  • None, but a person has what looks like a pack of cigarettes on a table in front of them.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • We hear that Peter is divorced and then see that his busy and demanding work schedule ended his marriage and still puts a strain on his relationship with Kate and their kids.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Racism.
  • Meeting and making dates with people you've only met online.
  • Charlene occasionally doing old school portrayals of black servant women in order to appease others.
  • Divorced parents.
  • Busy parents.
  • We hear that a boy got rough with Sarah after she said no to having sex with him.
  • Sneaking out of the house at night before the age of 16.
  • VIOLENCE
  • After Charlene makes a scene in his neighborhood, Peter tackles her to the ground to keep her quiet. He then pushes her into the shrubs so that the neighbor doesn't see her (all played for comedy).
  • Peter goes in to wake up Charlene who instinctually reacts by kicking him in the crotch and punching his face (before she knows it's him).
  • Various people at a party (who are mad) throw Peter into his pool. He then pushes Charlene out the door.
  • Mad at Ashley for her racist attitudes toward her, Charlene confronts her in the ladies room. After some words are exchanged, Charlene attempts to punch Ashley, but she kicks Charlene's feet out from under her, dropping her to the floor. The two then get into a fight (all played for laughs) where they take turns punching, kicking and hitting each other in the face and gut. This goes on for a minute or so and includes slamming the others into walls, etc. including a severe blow into a tile wall (breaking the tile) and through a closet door. More such fighting continues until Charlene eventually hangs Ashley by her clothes off a hook high above the floor.
  • A thug holds a gun to Peter's head in his car, threatening him to drop Charlene's case. He then slams Peter's head against the steering wheel twice. Peter then throws the car in reverse and then forward, causing the thug to fall out into the parking lot as Peter speeds away.
  • Charlene punches Todd and knocks him out.
  • A thug holds a gun to Peter's head. He then throws Peter to the floor and holds a gun on Charlene. Peter then elbows the thug who drops his gun. Howie picks it up and aims it at the thug and others, but Peter bumps him and the gun goes off. Charlene punches the thug, they struggle and he backhands her. She then punches him in the chest and hits him on the back. She's about to hit him with a chair when he aims his gun at her. He then shoots Charlene in the chest (but a cell phone blocks the shot), Howie tackles him and some FBI agents hold guns on the thug.



  • Reviewed March 4, 2003 / Posted March 7, 2003

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