Touchstone and Beyond: A History of Disney’s “Bringing Down the House”

Steve Martin, Eugene Levy, and Queen Latifah sounds like a match made in comedic heaven. Even though it was a box office success, does Bringing Down the House hold up?

The Plot

Peter Sanderson is a lonely uptight attorney, who can’t figure out where his personal life went wrong. His wife left him, and seems to be moving on, and while Peter is great at his job, he is struggling personally.

When he starts an online friendship with Charlene, Peter is over the moon happy. Finally, he has found someone who gets him. Meeting Charlene on a blind date, Peter soon learns that the little lies he told online is nothing compared to Charlene’s fibs. Neither of them is who they said they were.

Unwilling to leave, Charlene becomes a ‘nanny’ to Peter’s kids. Her influence reignites a new passion in Peter, which helps him start a new job, and reconcile with his wife. Charlene may not have been who she said she was, but her impact is critical in Peter’s life.

The Good

Queen Latifah as usual is hilarious, sweet, and an emotional favorite. She lights up the screen.

Eugene Levy is the perfect friend to Martin. I like the fact that his Howie isn’t a moron, but is rather capable in his job, and is a decent guy.

The Bad and the Ugly

The script is very dated. There are many moments in the movie that resort to stereotypes that just aren't funny today.

Steve Martin is a brilliant comedian. From his early comedy albums to his work on the big and small screen, Martin shines. This film doesn’t allow Martin to be the strong comedic force. He is forced to resort to using tired and old jokes that play on stereotypes that just sound wrong.

The scene where Steve Martin dresses so he can fit in at a club is ridiculous, and I don’t mean that in a good way.

Betty White is badly misused as the nosey neighbor.

Beyond the Film Facts

  • Queen Latifah was nominated for multiple MTV Movie Awards for her role in the movie.
  • Latifah and Martin were also nominated for Best Dance Sequence at the MTV Movie Awards of 2004.
  • Michael Rosenbaum play’s Steve Martin’s nemesis Todd. This is the one movie where Steve Martin battles a Lex Luthor.
  • On its opening weekend, the movie earned more than $31 million dollars.
  • Apparently, the house that Kate Sanderson lives in, is the house from Father of the Bride.

The Streamy Award

{The following four categories are based on a Film Reel scale.

1 Reel-Watch on your Smartphone, 2 Reels-Tablet Time, 3 Reels-Travel Entertainment, 4 Reels-Big Screen Event}

Usually with Steve Martin and Eugene Levy in the cast I would be jumping for joy about how funny the movie is and recommending everyone see it. The fact is this, I did not laugh. I didn’t find the characters to be exciting, and by the end of the film, I was happy it concluded.

The story itself relied on too many silly outdated jokes that don’t stand the test of time. Great actors have little to do, like Jean Smart and Betty White. The lead actors have little to do, and the audience is left wondering why I should laugh at any of this.

Bringing Down the House can be left in 2003.

Cast and Crew

  • Steve Martin as Peter Sanderson
  • Queen Latifah as Charlene Morton
  • Eugene Levy as Howie Rottman
  • Jean Smart as Kate Sanderson
  • Joan Plowright as Virginia Arness
  • Betty White as Mrs. Kline

Directed by Adam Shankman

Produced by Touchstone Pictures / Hyde Park Films / Mandeville Films

Release Date: March 7, 2003

Budget: $33 million

Box Office Gross

Domestic: $132,716,677

Worldwide Total: $164,729,679

Coming Soon

Eddie Murphy might be returning as Axel Foley, but next week we look back at his 1998 Touchstone Pictures film, Holy Man.