Taxi

2004, Movie, PG-13, 97 mins

Review

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This thorougly American remake of the Luc Besson-penned action-comedy about a pizza delivery boy-turned-cabbie who reluctantly teams up with a bumbling cop to foil a gang of hot-rodding bank robbers was retooled for Queen Latifah and Saturday Night Live alumnus Jimmy Fallon with less than felicitous results. New York City bike messenger Belle (Queen Latifah) has just gotten her hack license and can't wait to unleash her souped-up Ford Crown Victoria on the midtown streets. Off. Washburn (Fallon) is an undercover moron whose dismal driving skills have cost him his license, his self-respect and his rank. Thanks to an unfortunate incident that ended with the destruction of a bodega and the death of an undercover parrot, Washburn has been bumped down to foot patrol and is the laughingstock of the department, if not the entire city. When Washburn stumbles on a daring daylight bank robbery in progress, he commandeers Belle's cab and next thing she knows, her vehicle is in impound and the cops are pressuring her for a statement about the crime, which she has absolutely no interest in giving even though she got a good look at the bank robbers. But she'll do just about anything to get her cab back, even join forces with the smug, clueless, utterly incompetent Washburn. So Belle fills him in on what she knows: The thieves were all supermodel-esque babes (Gisele Bundchen, Magali Amadei, Ingrid Vandebosch and Ana Cristina De Oliveira), they were speaking in Portuguese and there's only one garage in the tri-state area where they could go to get their special bullet-resistant tires fixed. Washburn screws up the stakeout, nearly gets them killed and loses the suspects, which only makes him more determined to crack the case. And so it goes: Cars get smashed up, the thieving hotties flash their assets, Washburn makes a jackass of himself and Belle tries to patch things up with her smoldering sweetie (Henry Simmons), who assumes the worst when she fails to come home. Queen Latifah is a natural-born charmer, but there's only so much she can do when paired with a costar so irritating it's hard not to squirm when he's on the screen, which is most of the time. Only Ann-Margret manages to wring a few chuckles from the humiliatingly written role of Washburn's perpetually soused mom, which only goes to show that comedy is best left to real pros. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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