Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB
USA/United Kingdom, 2003. Touchstone Pictures, Hyde Park Films. Screenplay by Jason Filardi. Cinematography by Julio Macat. Produced by Ashok Amritraj, David Hoberman. Music by Lalo Schifrin. Production Design by Linda DeScenna. Costume Design by Pamela Withers. Film Editing by Gerald B. Greenberg.
This intellectually inferior comedy is nothing but two hours of missed opportunities. Steve Martin plays a lonely divorcee who has struck up a sweet romance in an internet chat room, presumably with a pretty young lawyer named Charlene.
When Charlene (Queen Latifah) shows up at his doorstep for their first real date, she turns out to be a loud-mouthed ex-con from the hood who wants him to help her clear her name for a crime she didn’t commit. He tries to get rid of her, but eventually she ingratiates herself into his life and into the lives of his kids.
This modern Mary Poppins sets itself up as pitting an old world mentality that sees African Americans as second class citizens against snotty white people who confront Latifah. Instead of any intelligent victories, however, the uneven screenplay has Charlene getting into stupid catfights complete with name-calling.
Martin does a competent job, but it’s far too easy for Eugene Levy to steal every scene away from his co-star every time they’re together. Why are all these people in this dud of a film when they clearly are far too smart for it? Jean Smart is fantastic as Martin’s ex-wife, and she seems to be getting more beautiful as the years pass.