March 17, 2005

DVD Review: Taxi

No, not the television series, although that may have been more enjoyable. Most of you who have been following my reviews know that I did not like Taxi much at all. You may even remember that it came in at number 6 on my Worst 10. You may be wondering why I am reviewing the DVD. Well, sometimes movies can improve when they make the transition to the small screen, and I am hoping that that may be the case here. I like Queen Latifah and Jimmy Fallon, both exhibit a certain charisma. Well let us get down to it, but before you continue, you may want to see my review of the movie, here, first.

Taxi is actually a remake of a French film that was successful enough to spawn a pair of sequels. I have heard that that movie is entertaining. It makes one wonder how the remake was received over there. In any event, Hollywood took the concept, flipped some of the roles around and gave Jimmy Fallon his first starring role on the big screen.

It's no secret that I did not like this film when I paid to see it on the big screen. Should make one wonder why I would subject myself to it again. One thing I have learned over the years is that sometimes a film will elicit a different reaction in a different setting, basically, sometimes the small screen helps one enjoy the film more. I sat down with my parents the other night and turned it on, only to be surprised by how much I found myself enjoying it. I still refuse to call it a good movie, but it is entertaining enough.

The story, such as it is, follows the bumbling exploits of police officer Andrew Washburn (Jimmy Fallon), and the cab driver (Queen Latifah) he enlists in his adventure. The main catch here is that Washburn is a bad driver, so he needs transportation to crime scenes. The driver he becomes entangled with is an aspiring NASCAR driver with a souped up Crown Victoria cab. They find themselves in pursuit of a gang of super model bank robbers. Much comedy ensues.

The concept itself is all over the map, slapstick comedy, police procedural, a romantic side story, the overbearing police chief. All of the cliches are there, and they don't really mess all that well. The film floats by on the charisma of its two leads. Latifah has charisma and talent to spare, but she seems handcuffed here, doing what she can with a lame script. Fallon is a funny guy, but he comes across as incredibly inexperienced, laughing at his own jokes and, I don't know, something was off. He has the ability, hopefully it will develop into something more. Taxi also features the film debut of model Gisele Bundchen, who does OK in what is primarily a visual role, she looks great as the leader of the robbers.

Technically, there is some very good work here. The car chases may look like something out of a video game, but they are shot very well. Lots of kinetic motion considering that this is primarily a comedy. You have to suspend disbelief considering that you have a transforming cab and a custom BMW chasing each other, at high speed mind you, through the streets of New York City. Once suspended, you can just imagine what went into filming these hyper sequences.

It should be mentioned that this DVD contains two versions of the film. First is the 97 minute theatrical version and then there is an extended cut which is 7 minutes longer. The version I watched here was the extended one. I could not immediately identify what had been added, but I can only guess that it helped the film based on my more positive reaction to this viewing.

Video. The disk is presented in it's original 2.35:1 aspect ratio (a separate pan and scan version is available, but we won't talk about that here). The transfer looked very good, blacks are dark, and the colors are bright, and vibrant, and this is a very colorful movie. No complaints at all.

Audio. Presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, it sounds good. There is good separation and directional audio which had me looking around a few times. A good track.

Extras. There is a decent selection here.
-Feature commentary with director Tim Story. Not a terribly involving track, there are a lot of dead areas. Story gives a couple of decent tales from the set, but there is a lot of back patting type talk. He is at his best when talking about filming the car chase sequences.
-Trailers. Disappointing, we get The Sandlot 2 and American Dad promos. Where's the Taxi trailer??
-Deleted Scenes. There are a couple of deleted scenes here that were also not in the extended version, and rightly so, they aren't that good. Still interesting to see what was cut.
-The Meter's Running: The Making of Taxi. Runs for a little over 20 minutes, it is primarily a fluff piece. It gives us a glimpse of the cast goofing on the set and a decent look at the cars involved. Mildly interesting.
-Lights, Camera, Blue Screen. A 5 minute piece about how they did some of the car effects.
-Tour Guide: Jimmy Fallon. A rather annoying 5 minutes of Jimmy taking us around the set. I was glad when it was over.
-Reel Comedy: Taxi. Comedy Central special about the film featuring members of the cast of Reno 911. This was pretty funny and well worth watching as the Reno cops visit the Big Apple.
-Sexy Bankrobbers. A 2+ minute music video stringing together scenes featuring the models. An entertaining one time watch.

Bottomline. Despite despising it when I screened it in the theater, it works rather well on the small one. The leads exhibit a lot of charisma, although it is mostly wasted as the story is not all that strong. It is a fun misfire.

Mildly Recommended as a rental.


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