Queen Latifah and Jimmy Fallon manage to pull off the new action comedy Taxi, banking on their chemistry and getting an unexpected amount of laughs along the way.
Fallon, fresh off his retirement as a “not-ready-for-primetime” player on Saturday Night Live, parlays the irreverent and bumbling sense of humor that made him a success on the small screen, into an enjoyable and incredibly funny comedy.
Paired with the always-comedic and take-charge icon that is Queen Latifah, Fallon times his idiosyncrasies to his counterpart’s commanding style and get laughs throughout the movie.
Fallon plays NYPD officer Andrew Washburn, a good cop whose career is marred by bad driving stemming from a childhood incident behind the wheel of his father’s car. Amidst his mishaps, he stumbles across a bank-robbery syndicate, run by four Brazilian supermodels and led by Gisele Bundchen.
After losing his patrol car and license, Washburn commandeers the taxicab of first-day driver Belle (Latifah), a NASCAR junkie whose cab is souped up complete with supercharger and 22-inch chrome rims.
The bipolar duo pursues the bank robbers through New York City, and fall into numerous comedic pitfalls throughout the movie. Brief but notable performances include Ann Margaret as Washburn’s margarita-happy mother and Jennifer Esposito as his ex-girlfriend-turned-lieutenant at the precinct.
The car chases, although sometimes drawn-out and ridiculous, offer a welcome addition to the constant one-liners and idiotic humor that Fallon manages to carry out for an hour and a half. Latifah’s domineering nature along with her trademark facial responses to Fallon’s foolishness really help the movie get laughs. Gisele’s good looks mask her acting deficiencies (she gets about 3 lines of dialogue in the entire movie), and the director’s willingness to let Latifah and Fallon go back-and-forth helps make the movie enjoyable and funny throughout.
Critics who slated this movie as a mindless comedy are missing the point. Many comedies are mindless and they should be judged on the laugh factor. Taxi is consistently funny and uses the different, but universally appealing, comedic talents of its two stars to their full potential. If you’re looking for good laughs and a good time, Taxi delivers on both counts.
Ross Bercik can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.