Projections - Movie Reviews


Starring: Queen Latifah, Jimmy Fallon, Henry Simmons,
Jennifer Esposito, Gisele Bundchen

Queen Latifah brings some heft and pizzazz to her character in Taxi as a cabbie named Belle obsessed with speed. But her paring with recently departed “Saturday Night Live” player Jimmy Fallon is a silly joy ride on celluloid.

Fallon wasn’t actually bad on SNL doing the Weekend Anchor newscasts opposite Tina Fey (writer of the decent Mean Girls). His first high profiled feature film opposite Queen Latifah generates no chemistry than some may think is apparent from the streaking trailer.

Three screen writers can’t come up with a concept that comes in the same stratosphere as Luc Besson’s 1998 original film which spawned two sequels. Here, another Americanized version gets too crazy for the target audience. Fallon may disastrously remind some people of Chris Kattan’s work in Corky Romano, and now there’s a gender shift with Latifah assuming the driver of a very high-performance Ford Crown Victoria taxi.

Beyonce Knowles’ song “Crazy In Love” gets things going as director Tim Story’s direction from the start imparts a sense of excitement. A fairly lean helmeted (messenger) biker whizzing through congested streets and “subway cars” of Manhattan turns out fantastically to be the Queen herself.

Belle happened to be the No. 1 biker and goes to driving a taxi which is primed for raceway action. Going about 100 MPH she takes a white guy (not usually because she likes to balance out the universe) from midtown to JFK airport in an experience for him like a turbo ride.

Next, we see Fallon’s loser cop Washburn about to execute an undercover sting operation with a partner on some Cuban underworld types for some illegal phone cards. After Washburn does his version of Al Pacino’s Tony Montana, the Cubans get away after shooting his partner.

Story, who made the estimable Barbershop, is sucked into the Hollywood swill, like Ann Margaret who plays Washburn’s overprotective, tipsy mother. Henry Simmons turns up as Belle’s unhappy construction worker boyfriend. There are fast cars, check out the robbers V-12 BMW 760Li and fast women, but don’t expect the chases to come anywhere near Blues Brothers territory. Queen Latifah may liked going from Harlem from New Jersey in this one, but even as watch able and fun as she can be, this Taxi runs mainly on nonsense, repetition and embarrassment.


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