Bringing Down the House

March 7, 2003 0 By Fans
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Steve Martin and Adam Shankman in Bringing Down the HouseStill of Jean Smart in Bringing Down the HouseJean Smart at event of Bringing Down the HouseMichael Rosenbaum in Bringing Down the HouseStill of Steve Martin, Queen Latifah and Eugene Levy in Bringing Down the HouseStill of Joan Plowright and Michael Rosenbaum in Bringing Down the House


When a lonely guy meets a woman on the Internet who happens to be in prison, she breaks out to be with him, and proceeds to wreak havoc on his middle-class life.

Release Year: 2003

Rating: 5.4/10 (19,346 voted)

Critic's Score: 39/100

Adam Shankman

Stars: Steve Martin, Queen Latifah, Eugene Levy

Peter Sanderson is a divorced, straight-laced, uptight attorney who still loves his ex-wife and can't figure out what he did wrong to make her leave him. However, Peter's trying to move on, and he's smitten with a brainy, bombshell barrister he's been chatting with online. However, when she comes to his house for their first face-to-face, she isn't refined, isn't Ivy League, and isn't even a lawyer. Instead, it's Charlene, a prison escapee who's proclaiming her innocence and wants Peter to help her clear her name. But Peter wants nothing to do with her, prompting the loud and shocking Charlene to turn Peter's perfectly ordered life upside down, jeopardizing his effort to get back with his wife and woo a billion dollar client.


Steve Martin

Peter Sanderson

Queen Latifah

Charlene Morton

Eugene Levy

Howie Rottman

Joan Plowright

Virginia Arness

Jean Smart

Kate Sanderson

Kimberly J. Brown

Sarah Sanderson

Angus T. Jones

Georgey Sanderson

Missi Pyle


Michael Rosenbaum

Todd Gendler

Betty White

Mrs. Kline

Steve Harris


Jim Haynie

Ed Tobias

Aengus James


Jernard Burks

Widow's Bodyguard

Bronzell Miller

Widow's Bodyguard

Bring it. March 7.


Official Website:
Touchstone site at |

Release Date: 7 March 2003

Filming Locations: 166 S McCadden Pl., Hancock Park, Los Angeles, California, USA

Box Office Details

Budget: $33,000,000


Opening Weekend: $31,101,026
(9 March 2003)
(2801 Screens)

Gross: $132,541,238
(27 July 2003)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?


Despite the fact that this was filmed in Super 35, "Filmed in Panavision" is listed in the end credits.


The shoulder space between Peter and Howie when Peter introduces Howie to Mrs. Arness at the country club.


Mrs. Arness:
[to Charlene]
Oh, just one moment… you know, there's a lovely, sad, Negro spiritual…
[Sarah chokes on her food]

Mrs. Arness:
Ivy's brother used to… uh, are you all right?
[Sarah nods weakly and takes a sip of her drink]

Mrs. Arness:
Anyway, Ivy's brother used to sing this when he came in from the tobbaco fields…
[begins to sing]

Mrs. Arness:
Mmmm…"Mama, is master going to sell us tomorrow? Yes, yes, yes! Mama, is master going to sell us tomorrow? Yes, yes, yes! Mama… is master going to sell ME to-mor-or-or-row…"

User Review

the stars steal the show


`Bringing Down the House' is the latest variation on that old comic chestnut
in which a wisecracking, free-spirit type from `the lower social orders'
invades the life of an uptight stuffed-shirt type – not only getting him to
loosen up that collar and shed his inhibitions but also showing him a thing
or two about what really matters in life. This is, basically, a primer for
a Culture Clash Comedy 101 course, with a couple of veteran comic professors
on hand to teach us all how it's done.

In this case, Steve Martin plays the uptight lawyer who is so obsessed with
his career that he has already lost his wife over the issue and appears on
the road to alienating his children as well. When Peter meets what he
believes is a potential love interest in an internet chat room, he figures
his life just might be turning around for the better. Peter is all set for
a romantic evening – champagne, dim lights, `A Man and a Woman' playing
softly in the background – when, at his door, who should appear but that Big
Bad Mama, Queen Latifah, as Charlene Morton, an ex-convict who wants Peter
to help her expunge from her record the crime she swears she did not commit.
Peter is at first reluctant to accept this strange woman into his house and
life, but Charlene is nothing if not persistent and she manages to horn her
way in anyway.

The Jason Filardi screenplay pretty much plays it all by rote. We know,
despite their tremendous differences in culture, background and personality,
that these two comic titans will end up as great pals by the story's end.
Nothing about `Bringing Down the House' surprises us, yet there is a certain
amount of comfort to be derived from familiarity and predictability. It's
an old formula but one that works fairly well here, thanks, primarily, to
the assured, high-energy performances of Martin and Latifah in the starring
roles. These two comic masters achieve a real chemistry working together,
enough to compensate for the broad stereotyping that permeates the film.
Filardi does achieve some moments of genuine hilarity by mixing slapstick
and social satire in roughly equal measure. The satire isn't on a very high
level of sophistication but it is good enough for a mass audience venture
such as this one.

Director Adam Shankman is also blessed with a strong supporting cast that
includes Eugene Levy as a nerdish – but `freaky' – business associate
obsessed with wild black women like Charlene; Joan Plowright as a snooty,
eccentric matron whose account Peter is determined to win for his firm; and
Bette White as Peter's bigoted next door neighbor who is eyeing askance all
the strange goings-on at the lawyer's house.

`Bringing Down the House' is at its best when it simply lets itself go,
forgets about the plot, and allows its performers to dazzle us with their
sheer likeability, i.e., Martin and Latifah dancing up a storm at an L.A.
bistro, Martin breaking out into a spontaneous break dance routine while
infiltrating an all-black nightclub. It is at its worst in the final scenes
when the heavy-handed plot mechanics threaten to torpedo the whole project.
Luckily, we have Martin and Latifah to help keep the thing afloat. The
vehicle itself may creak at times, but the stars never