Making the Grades
A couple of months ago, the R-rated Collateral put a cabbie at the mercy of a hired killer. We have the opposite situation in this PG-13 comedy, where a cop enlists a New York taxi driver to help catch a gang of bank robbers.
Saturday Night Live personality Jimmy Fallon plays Officer Washburn, an impossibly inept cop who steers a car like a three-year-old. Audiences would be well advised to park their brains at the door if they are to believe even for a moment, the words of his lieutenant and former girlfriend Marta Robbins (Jennifer Espositio). She tells Washburn he'd be a great cop if he could just learn how to drive. The problem is that even if this man could command a vehicle, he'd still be a ridiculous excuse for a law enforcement officer.
No matter... on with the story.
After backing into a fruit stand, Washburn is put on foot patrol. Wandering around Manhattan, he hears a call on the police radio buried inside his black duffle bag. It seems a bank robbery is going down. Unable to commandeer a citizen's car (and causing a violent crash when he tries), he hops into a brand new taxi recently purchased by Belle (Queen Latifah). What Washburn doesn't know is this cab has big time mods that make it more suitable to the Indy 500 than NYC.
But a fast car doesn't equal crooks in custody. After botching up the capture, Washburn is once again the fool of the force. Belle doesn't want to help out any longer either-especially after the crazed cop accidentally shoots out the window in her pristine cab. Even after he's fired, Washburn is still convinced he can save the day. So he begs Belle to keep helping him... and for some reason (only known to the writers of this script) she does.
It's difficult to think of a single reason to see this movie. Latifah and Fallon have no chemistry, and appear to have been handed the script only a half hour before the cameras rolled. That is, assuming there is a script. A scene where the two of them are playing give-and-take with Washburn's police badge is absolutely painful. I assume this was a foiled attempt at having the two "comics" improvise on screen.
In order for comedy to work, it needs an element of truth. Because there is no truth in this premise, it's unlikely audiences will buy into this movie. Toss in a casual attitude toward violence (including a couple of shootings), as well as many mild and moderate profanities, and family viewers will have additional impetus to let this Taxi drive right on by.