Starring: Jimmy Fallon, Queen Latifah, Gisele Bundchen
Director: Tim Story
Jimmy Fallon may be the new star of “Saturday Night Live” now that Will Ferrell’s no longer there, but his jump to the big screen hasn’t been as graceful. While he received earlier renown for bit roles in films like “Almost Famous” and the HBO miniseries “Band of Brothers,” the young comedian had reportedly turned down a large number of scripts before finally agreeing to work with director Tim Story on his latest comedy flop “Taxi.” In fact the only funny thing about the entire script is its uncanny resemblance to the 1998 French film of the same name, so why would Fallon waste his highly-touted improvisational style in a debut starring role that doesn’t display him at his finest?
Fallon stars as Andy Washburn, a NYC detective who has his driver’s license revoked after a series of reckless incidents and numerous lawsuits. When he receives a police transmission about a bank robbery in effect, Washburn commandeers a taxi driven by feisty cabbie Belle (Queen Latifah) and they speed to the scene of the crime in her pimped-out taxi with enough engine modifications to put Vin Diesel to shame. The band of robbers inevitably turn out to be a gang of stunning Brazilian models (led by supermodel Giselle Bundchen) who act like true professionals while they jump from bank to bank. In order to redeem his credibility at the station, Washburn teams up with Belle to track down the beautiful thieves, but not without embarrassing himself first.
The main problem with “Taxi” is that it doesn’t know what kind of film it wants to be. It tends to stray away from the whole “buddy cop” genre by loosening up on the usually stereotypical characters and injecting Latifah into the mix, but when the director isn’t speeding through the traffic-packed streets of New York City, the plot suffers long gaps of boredom. Aside from his performance as an undercover Cuban in the opening credits, Fallon is hindered from wandering too far from outside of the script and Latifah forces most of her comedic scenes. “Taxi” isn’t necessarily one of the worst films of 2004, but it has its share of scratches and dents in both the script and in casting choices. Don’t pay the high fare for a trip to the theaters, but a group rental is well worth it.
The DVD release for "Taxi" shares a lot in common with the film, from its supercharged star vehicle to the giant letdowns that pop-up throughout, but just because you include a large amount of special features doesn't necessarily mean that it will wow the viewer. Presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer and a 5.1 Dolby audio track, the film is offered in both its theatrical cut, as well as an extended version that doesn't get better with more time.
The special features section of the film starts off with an enjoyable full-length audio commentary with director Tim Story (only on the theatrical cut) and four deleted scenes showing off some of Jimmy Fallon's funnier scenes. The rest of the disc is flooded with pointless featurettes like "The Meter's Running: Making Taxi," the visual FX documentary "Lights, Camera, Blue Screen" and the Comedy Central special on the film, "Reel Comedy: Taxi." Also included is a silly "Tour Guide" bit with Jimmy Fallon and a music video montage of the "Beautiful Criminals" that are featured in the film.