out of Five
Running time: 97
Dismal comedy that’s only watchable thanks to Queen Latifah’s star power, an amusing cameo by Ann-Margaret and the sheer unbridled stupidity of its supermodels-as-bankrobbers premise. It’s still pretty bad though.
Taxi is the latest in a long line of crap remakes of European films, although in this case, it’s probably safe to say that no-one’s going to complain that much, given that it still features fast car chases and a mismatched “comedy” duo at its centre.
To that end, Taxi has been retooled as a vehicle for rising star Queen Latifah, as well as Jimmy Fallon, who is known to American audiences from Saturday Night Live but is unknown over here. (And if there’s any justice, he’ll stay that way).
New Taxi Driver Tangles With Cop
The film opens with a daredevil courier racing a bike all over New York (through Macy’s department store, through the open doors of a train on the subway, off a bridge, across a truck etc) to the tune of Beyoncé’s Crazy In Love. In what is perhaps the funniest joke in the entire film, the rider is finally revealed to be…Queen Latifah. She plays Belle, a speed-freak who has just got her taxi-driver’s licence and is looking forward to trying out her super-charged new yellow cab.
However, things don’t quite go her way and she soon finds her cab commandeered by inept cop Andy Washburn (Jimmy Fallon), who’s in hot pursuit of a group of bank-robbing supermodels led by “Vanessa” (real-life supermodel Gisele Bundchen, previously better known as Leonardo DiCaprio’s girlfriend).
Naturally, they bicker like all mismatched buddy types are supposed to and various plot contrivances conspire to keep them together until the job is done, but not before we’ve suffered through several fast-paced car chases and some spectacularly unfunny “comedy” set-pieces.
Staggeringly Bad Script
The script is staggeringly bad and the comedy misfires at every step. Even the car chases aren’t that exciting. In fact, the only remotely amusing thing is a cameo by Ann-Margaret as Washburn’s alcoholic mother and even that is only likely to make you feel sorry for her. You’ll also feel sorry for Queen Latifah (who definitely deserves better than this rubbish), although her relentlessly cheery screen presence at least keeps the film watchable.
However, you’ll really feel sorry for The Lovely Jennifer Esposito (who really doesn’t do nearly enough films) – as if having to play Washburn’s ex-girlfriend wasn’t enough, she also has a humiliating scene where Vanessa feels her up while “frisking” her. Supposedly, this is meant to be funny, but it falls spectacularly flat.
Fallon is intensely irritating – he’s the most punchable actor to emerge from the Saturday Night Live stable since David Spade. He’s meant to be endearing, but his performance is just plain embarrassing, especially his attempts at “comedy” singing. It’s never entirely clear whether there is meant to be chemistry between him and Latifah – it’s as if the writers thought about it, then watched the two of them together and hastily crossed all those scenes out.
In short, Taxi isn’t exactly unwatchable, but that’s largely due to Latifah’s likeable star quality and some of the film’s more bonkers moments – for example, you have to applaud the chutzpah of having supermodel villains just so you can squeeze in a few gratuitous lingerie shots during the “quick-change” getaway. On balance though, you’re better off waiting for a bus.