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Taxi (2004)

Does anyone really like Jimmy Fallon? His reputation was made when he joined "Saturday Night Live" in 1998 (at the age of 24) and was the show's first himbo. The first few years of his tenure were embarrassing; when called upon to perform solo, he did variations on Adam Sandler routines, and he became notorious for breaking character in the middle of a sketch (especially when paired with Horatio Sanz). But as Tina Fey became head writer and Will Ferrell's star grew, the show (and Fallon) seemed to pull out of their morass. Perhaps the best decision of this era was putting him with Fey to anchor "Weekend Update," where his snarky sensibilities worked best reading other people's material (it also created a nice comic reversal by having the woman be the smart one). Having left the show at the end of the 2003-2004 season to pursue a film career, one got the sense that Fallon could be cast well, but was more a funny frat guy then someone who understands comedy. And though he was put to good use in Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous (2000), when asked to carry 2004's Taxi he's about as embarrassing as late-stage Chevy Chase. Fallon stars as cop Washburn, who can't drive a car well (this is the movie's high-concept setup) and has his license suspended after wrecking another police vehicle. When Washburn finds himself on the heels of some bank robbers, he has to commandeer a vehicle and ends up in the cab of Belle (Queen Latifah) who has customized her yellow ride to be the fastest on the streets. It turns out that the criminals are supermodels (headed up by Gisele Bundchen), and through Belle's knowledge of vehicles and Washburn's ability to not screw up all the time, they both are unintentionally partnered together trying to catch the crooks. For those caught completely unawares, Taxi is not an adaptation of James L. Brooks's excellent television series, but instead a remake of a French film series produced by Luc Besson (though neither options are particularly appealing), directed here by Barbershop's Tim Story, and written by The State alums Ben Garrant and Thomas Lennon. Stuck with a lame duck leading man (though the script does him no favors), the film flounders, though the car chases are well photographed. Latifah can be a light comic presence, but she works better when she's bouncing off someone else who's funnier; here nothing works. Hopefully Fallon will choose a better project next time, or — if he keeps making dreck like this — go to Tina Fey for some script advice. Fox presents Taxi in two versions, the theatrical cut and an extended version (which runs six minutes longer). Both are anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras include a commentary with director Story (but only for the theatrical version), four deleted scenes, "The Meter's Running: Making Taxi" (22 min.), the effects featurette "Lights, Camera, Blue Screen (6 min.), "Tour Guide: Jimmy Fallon" (4 min.), and "Reel Comedy: Taxi," (22 min.) which features writers Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon and offers more laughs than the movie itself. Keep-case.
—DSH



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