Taxi (2004)
Main cast: Queen Latifah (Belle), Jimmy Fallon (Washburn), Henry Simmons (Jesse), Jennifer Esposito (Lt Marta Robbins), Gisele BŁndchen (Vanessa), Ann-Margret (Washburn's Mom), and Christian Kane (Agent Mullins)
Director: Tim Story

What is Queen Latifah doing in this wretched Americanization of that 1998 French movie Taxi, I will never know. Maybe she needs to pay the rent too. I warn people not to play drinking games to this movie because if you drink to every time Queen Latifah's character Belle goes "Man...!", you'll be dead of alcohol poisoning before the first hour rolls in.

Just like the French original, this American version is just as ridiculous. Only this time the crazed speedrat is a woman, Belle, a delivery person who has recently received her taxi license. Her taxi, however, is no ordinary taxi - it has all the fancy gizmos that allow her to travel at what seems like the speed of light. Don't ask me how she can afford those enhancements - maybe she is missing a kidney for good reason. The sensible cop in the French version is now a dismally inept cop named Washburn who endangers and even kills his colleagues while piling up the collateral damage, all the while remaining so self-absorbed that he cares only to impress Lt Marta Robbins and to fulfil some Freudian "I Wanna Be Like Daddy" wet dreams of his.

When four exotic ladies led by Vanessa start robbing banks, Washburn hops into Belle's cab for the first of many tedious and obviously computer-generated car chases (and crashes). Like they say, a friendship is born.

It is bad enough that Washburn is an utterly loathsome character in his own right, useless and snivelling to boot, Jimmy Fallon has to look like a drowned rat on the verge of turning into Mike Myers in this movie. His character has more tics than a dog that hasn't bathed in years and frankly, every minute of Washburn's drawing breath in this movie is an offense to the centuries of human evolution that has taken place. Queen Latifah is not just tamed in this awful movie, she is practically doused of whatever fire she has shown in her scene-stealing roles in the past. So much so, in fact, I wish that Belle and Vanessa have teamed up in this show and run over Washburn because at least then the movie would gain some semblance of watchability.

Apart from a contrivedly tame scene of Sapphic overtones between Vanessa and Lt Robbins, there is little in this movie to offer in terms of entertainment, wholesome or risque.

This Taxi obviously has a bigger budget than the French original but while I thought the French original dumber than a room of NFL players, this Taxi has the dubious honor of recreating dumb and coming off ten times dumber than the original brand of dumb. That sure is something, I tell you.

Rating: 46

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