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COLUMBIA TRISTAR

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Tim Story
Cast:
Queen Latifah, Jimmy Fallon, Henry Simmons, Jennifer Esposito, Gisele Bundchen
Writing Credits:
Luc Besson (earlier screenplay), Ben Garant, Thomas Lennon, Jim Kouf

Tagline:
He's armed, but she's dangerous.

Synopsis:
Sassy hip hop star Queen Latifah brings hilarious attitude to this hard driving, high octane comedy action blast! Latifah plays Belle, New York's fastest cabbie, whose taxi-not to mention her loaded-to-the-max vehicle-comes in handy when a fumbling young (Jimmy Fallon) must crack a bank robbery plot hatched by a gang of sexy supermodels! Don't miss this tire-squealing, stop-on-a-dime comedy with a topflight cast of stars, including NYPD Blue's Henry Simmons, Ann-Margret and supermodel Gisele Bundchen!

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$12.029 million on 3001 screens.
Domestic Gross
$36.501 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby 2.0
French Dolby 2.0
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned

Runtime: 97 min.
Price: $29.98
Release Date: 2/15/2005

Bonus:
• Both Theatrical and Extended Versions of the Film
• Audio Commentary with Director Tim Story
• Deleted Scenes
• “The Meter’s Running: Making Taxi” Featurette
• “Lights, Camera, Blue Screen” Featurette
• “Tour Guide: Jimmy Fallon” Featurette
• “Reel Comedy: Taxi” Featurette
• “Beautiful Criminals” Featurette
• Trailers
• “Inside Look”


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EQUIPMENT
Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Taxi (2004)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 25, 2005)

If Jimmy Fallon wants to join fellow Saturday Night Live alumni like Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy, Mike Myers and Adam Sandler among the ranks of movie stars, he’ll need to do better than flops like 2004’s Taxi. At the flick’s start, we meet wild bike messenger Belle (Queen Latifah), who leaves her job to become a cabbie. This excites her greatly, as she clearly dotes over her new car than her hunky boyfriend Jesse (Henry Simmons). The gang at her old job even gives her a supercharger to put into the engine. It goes along with many other tricked-out elements in her specialized cab that she worked on for five years.

From there we meet Andy Washburn (Fallon), a cop who consistently screws up because he doesn’t know how to drive worth a damn. He gets chewed out by his boss - and former girlfriend - Lt. Marta Robbins (Jennifer Esposito) and loses his driver’s license. Marta bumps him down to a walking beat, much to his dismay.

When an off-duty Andy hears about a bank robbery, he hops into Belle’s cab and the pair head off on a wild pursuit. We quickly see that these are no ordinary crooks, as a gang of hot babes pulled off the job. Led by Vanessa (Gisele Bundchen), they manage to give our pair the slip, and Andy again ends up in hot water with Marta.

Actually, this pursuit screws things up for both Andy and Belle. Not only does he get another demerit for his work, but also she disappoints Jesse once again. The cops impound her car, but Andy - eager to redeem himself - decides to “bend the rules” and work with her to catch the crooks. The pair combine to pursue the supermodel criminals.

Not only did Taxi fail to give Fallon a hit to compare with the successes of his more prominent SNL brothers, but also it doesn’t even live up to Rob Schneider levels. The movie took in a mere $36 million, which can’t even match up to clunkers like The Animal.

At its best, I can say that Taxi boasts a mildly intriguing concept. Based on a 1998 French flick written by Luc Besson, it has a few slightly interesting ideas at work. Belle’s supercharged car offers some potential, and the supermodel robbers could turn fun.

Unfortunately, the movie never develops any of its potential, and it mostly mires in buddy flick tedium. He’s a nerdy white cop, she’s a wild black cabbie - they’re the original odd couple! Haven’t we seen these sort of pairings many times in the past? Okay, Belle’s gender creates a minor alteration from the status quo, but it doesn’t help give the movie any personality. We’ve seen the same shtick in eight million other buddy flicks, and nothing about this one makes it stand out from the crowd.

This means that Taxi feels like an amalgamation of 85 other flicks combined into one. It doesn’t help that Fallon and Latifah display absolutely no comedic chemistry together. They usually feel like they’re in different movies, and they don’t connect on any level. That’s a bad thing since they spend the majority of the flick together.

Fallon’s performance becomes a particular source of weakness. He doesn’t develop a personality of his one, as he takes bits and pieces of other actors for Andy. Among others, we get a little Murphy here, a little Sandler there, a tad of Myers and a smidgen of Dan Aykroyd on the side. This means that he struggles to do anything distinctive and ends up with a performance that’s little more than a mixed-up mess.

That’s a pretty good description for Taxi as a whole. The movie meanders its way from one nutty situation to another but doesn’t coalesce into anything amusing or interesting. Granted, it stages some good driving scenes, at least when viewed on their own, but they’re not different than anything we’ve previously seen. The film’s most creative element comes from the casting of Simmons as Jesse. He’s radically out of the doughy Belle’s league, but given the preponderance of movies and TV shows in which fat guys date/marry babes, it’s a nice twist. Otherwise, Taxi flops.


The DVD Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B+/ Bonus B

Taxi appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Taxi offered a strong visual presentation that just narrowly fell below “A”-level.

Sharpness mostly worked well. A smidgen of softness crept in at times, largely due to the presence of some light edge enhancement. However, those concerns remained minor, as the flick usually looked concise and detailed. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and only very mild source flaws appeared. I saw a speck or two and some light grain, but that was it.

Colors offered the best parts of the visuals. Taxi stayed with a naturalistic palette, but it used a lot of bright tones within those restrictions. The movie’s hues were always lively and dynamic. Blacks also seemed deep and firm, while low-light shots were well-develop and smooth. Despite the smattering of minor issues, the film offered a very satisfying transfer.

With all its driving sequences, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Taxi offered a more involving affair than one might expect from a comedy. To be sure, the car-based sequences helped bring the audio to life. The mix consistently displayed a good sense of environment, and the various elements moved smoothly and neatly across the various channels. The surrounds didn’t overwhelm the action, as they mostly reinforced the front. They added good kick and allowed the driving scenes to demonstrate an extra layer of realism.

Audio quality also was positive. Speech consistently sounded natural and crisp, with no problems related to edginess or intelligibility. Effects were accurate and dynamic. They lacked any forms of distortion and often added a lot of kick in the louder scenes. The rock and hip-hop influenced music also cracked things open with lively and vivid tones. Bass response was very strong across the board, as the movie demonstrated excellent bass response. The track wasn’t quite good enough to broach “A” territory, but it worked well for this story.

When we move to the set’s extras, we find that the DVD in its theatrical rendition or an extended version. The latter adds about seven minutes to the movie’s original run time of 97 minutes. I only watched the longer version, so I can’t make a comparison between the two. However, the “Scene Selection” menu for the extended cut offers asterisks for the nine scenes that run longer. It’s nice to have the option and also cool that the disc lets us know which portions were altered.

Next we find a running, screen-specific audio commentary from director Tim Story. Note that this solely accompanies the theatrical version of the film. Story gets into a lot of useful topics. He covers comparisons with the original version of the film, casting and working with the actors, improvisation, the movie’s tone and influences, story issues, cinematographic choices and selection of aspect ratio, location challenges, editing, stunts, and music. As usual, a moderate amount of happy talk pops up, as Story makes sure to praise many of the participants. The track’s second half also drags at times, as that section suffers from sporadic bouts of dead air. However, the director mostly fills the commentary with good notes that flesh out the production and make this a positive experience.

The disc includes a collection of four Deleted Scenes that fill a total of three minutes, 53 seconds. These show us Andy’s post-accident assignment, Belle at a police lineup to identify the robbers, more of Andy’s driving woes, and an argument among the crooks. The bits with Officer Andy on patrol at the zoo almost border on becoming funny, but the others are a waste of time.

We find a mix of featurettes. The Meter’s Runnin’: Making Taxi runs 20 minutes and five seconds and features movie clips, behind the scenes elements, and interviews. We hear from Story, production designer Mayne Schuyler Berke, and actors Jimmy Fallon, Queen Latifah, Gisele Bundchen and Henry Simmons. We get a lot of fluffy praise for the project and the participants. A couple of notes about shooting and locations appear as well as Bundchen’s impressions of acting and the design of the cab, but don’t expect to learn a ton about the flick’s creation. Fallon fans will enjoy it, though, as he offers lots of wackiness on the set. We also get some outtakes that provide minor amusement.

After this comes Lights, Camera, Blue Screen. It goes for five minutes, 32 seconds, and includes remarks from visual effects supervisor Ray McIntyre, Jr. He discusses all the elements that allow them to recreate driving sequences in the studio. These look at both practical and post-production pieces used to make the illusion. Despite the featurette’s brevity, it presents a tight look at its subject and proves quite educational.

Up next we see Tour Guide: Jimmy Fallon, a five-minute and 34-second clip. Fallon takes us around the set and yuks it up with nutty comments about what he sees. It’s moderately amusing and that’s about it.

Part of a Comedy Central series, Reel Comedy: Taxi takes 21 minutes and 11 seconds. Hosted by “Lt. Jim Dangle” and “Travis Jr.” of Reno 911!, this goofy special includes comments from Fallon, Latifah, and Bundchen. All the prior “Reel Comedy” shows I saw were lame and dopey, and none of them offered any insight into the movies. Although we don’t learn anything about Taxi, this one actually manages to become pretty funny. “Dangle” and “Travis” do deadpan stupid well and offer some amusing moments. It’s still a superficial promotional piece with too many movie clips, but it’s easily the most entertaining “Reel Comedy” special I’ve seen. Heck, I laughed a lot more here than I did during the actual movie.

For the final featurette, we discover Beautiful Criminals. This two-minute and 33-second snippet offers a bizarre form of music video. We hear some score elements combined with movie clips and a few behind the scenes shots. All of these focus on the flick’s babes. If you want to see 153 seconds of Bundchen and the others, give it a look. It seems pretty pointless, though.

In the Trailers area, we find ads for The Sandlot 2 and American Dad. The promo for Taxi itself doesn’t appear on the DVD. Inside Look offers a preview for Rebound with some movie clips and comments from actor Martin Lawrence.

Neither a funny comedy nor an exciting action flick, Taxi fails to entertain. Actually, a few of the stunts are pretty impressive, but the film never uses these well or turns into an impressive flick. The DVD presents pretty solid picture and audio with a decent set of extras. Some fluffy bits pop up but we get a good commentary and a few other useful tidbits. Taxi adds up to a pretty good DVD, but I can’t recommend this weak film to anyone who doesn’t already know they like it.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.5555 Stars Number of Votes: 27
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