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Bringing Down the House (film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bringing Down the House
Bringing down the house poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAdam Shankman
Produced byDavid Hoberman
Ashok Amritraj
Written byJason Filardi
Music byLalo Schifrin
CinematographyJulio Macat
Edited byGerald B. Greenberg
Distributed byBuena Vista Pictures
Release date
  • March 7, 2003 (2003-03-07)
Running time
105 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$33 million[citation needed]
Box office$164.7 million[1]

Bringing Down the House is a 2003 American comedy romance film written by Jason Filardi and directed by Adam Shankman and starring Steve Martin and Queen Latifah. The film features Peter Sanderson as a lonely guy on the internet meeting a woman, who happens to be in prison, breaking free to prove her innocence, and proceeding to wreak havoc on his own middle-class life. The film made its release on March 7, 2003 by Touchstone Pictures and was distributed by Buena Vista Pictures.


Peter Sanderson (Steve Martin) is a workaholic tax attorney, separated from his wife Kate (Jean Smart) and often too busy for their children, Sarah (Kimberly J. Brown) and Georgie (Angus T. Jones).

Peter arranges a blind date at his home with Charlene Morton (Queen Latifah), a woman he has been chatting with online. Misled by her photograph and description, he is shocked to discover that she is actually a felon who corresponded with him from prison. Charlene tries to blackmail Peter into clearing her name of armed robbery, claiming she is innocent, but he throws her out after several attempts.

Just as Peter is about to meet with a difficult client, Mrs. Virginia Arness (Joan Plowright), he is ambushed by Charlene, who draws the lustful attention of his friend and colleague Howie Rottman (Eugene Levy). Agreeing to help expunge Charlene's record and let her stay at his house, Peter lies that she is his nanny. Charlene is disrespected by Kate's unpleasant sister, Ashley (Missi Pyle), but subdues her in a vicious locker-room brawl.

Peter takes Charlene to dinner, and Kate is upset to spot them dancing together. Returning home, Charlene coaches a drunk Peter on winning Kate back, and they are caught in a compromising position by Peter's bigoted neighbor, his boss’ sister. Charlene helps Georgie overcome his struggles with reading, rescues Sarah from unwanted advances at a party, and guides Peter toward become a more understanding parent.

Impressing Kate with his new commitment to spending time with their kids, Peter attempts to invite her over but is interrupted by a call, to Kate's disappointment. He races home to meet Mrs. Arness, who invites herself to dinner, and reminisces fondly about her family having owned slaves. Enraged, Charlene adds laxatives to Mrs. Arness’ plate, which is inadvertently given to Peter. A TV news report declares that Charlene is a fugitive, having broken out of prison; the report includes security footage from a bank robbery, appearing to prove that a masked Charlene committed the crime.

Mrs. Arness leaves, refusing to sign the lucrative contract for Peter's firm, and Peter sends Charlene away. At the office, he discovers Mrs. Arness has notified the FBI, and sneaks out to his car. He is threatened at gunpoint by Widow, Charlene's ex-boyfriend, who warns him not to reopen her case, but Peter manages to drive off. Realizing Widow must have framed Charlene, Peter returns home to ask for his children's help finding her.

Sarah admits that she gave Charlene his cell phone, which Peter calls and picks Charlene up. He explains that she was set up by Widow, who is likely at a club downtown. Peter drops Charlene off at his house, saying he is returning to the office, but instead goes to the club. Buying street clothes off of a passer-by, Peter enters the club in disguise. Kate arrives at Peter's house to find the children waiting while the FBI search the premises.

Charlene calls Howie to drive her to the home of Mrs. Arness, who refuses to let Charlene explain herself, leading Charlene and Howie to kidnap Mrs. Arness and her beloved French bulldog. Charlene calls Sarah and realizes Peter went to the club, where Peter attempts to blend in but is captured by Widow.

Peter gets Widow to confess to having committed the robbery disguised as Charlene. Arriving at the club, Mrs. Arness gets drunk and high while Charlene calls the authorities, and she and Howie confront Widow. After a scuffle for his gun, Widow shoots Charlene, and the FBI storm the club. Charlene is saved from the bullet by Peter's titanium cell phone, and Peter reveals that he recorded Widow's confession on a boombox.

Having secured Mrs. Arness as a multibillion-dollar client, Peter and Howie start their own firm. Moving into their new office, Peter is surprised by Charlene, and they exchange thanks for their impact on each other's lives. Kate arrives, and she and Peter reconcile as his cell phone rings. He tosses it out the window and they kiss; downstairs, Charlene and Howie appear to do the same.


  • Steve Martin as Peter Sanderson, an uptight lawyer who reluctantly helps Charlene with her case. They eventually bond, becoming close friends and she helps him rebuild his life, including helping him get Kate back.
  • Queen Latifah as Charlene Morton, an escaped convict who was framed, and seeks Peter's help in proving her innocence. Over the course of the film, she bonds with Peter and the family as she poses as their nanny. She is also Howie's love interest.
  • Eugene Levy as Howie Rottman, Peter's over-sexed best friend and colleague. He falls madly in love with Charlene upon meeting her.
  • Kimberly J. Brown as Sarah Sanderson, Peter's daughter and older child.
  • Angus T. Jones as Georgie Sanderson, Peter's son and younger child.
  • Joan Plowright as Virginia Arness, an arrogant, racist client of Peter's.
  • Jean Smart as Kate Sanderson, Peter's estranged wife. It's apparent that they still harbor feelings for one another, as she is jealous of his new friendship with Charlene, believing them to be in a relationship.
  • Missi Pyle as Ashley, Kate's promiscuous, racist, gold-digging, and alcoholic sister.
  • Steve Harris as Widow, Charlene's shady ex-boyfriend.
  • Michael Rosenbaum as Todd Gendler, Peter's arrogant colleague & apparent replacement.
  • Betty White as Mrs. Kline, Peter's racist neighbor.
  • Jim Haynie as Ed Tobias, Peter, Howie and Todd's boss.
  • Matt Lutz as Aaron
  • Victor Webster as Glen
  • Kelly Price as herself


A soundtrack containing hip hop and R&B music was released on March 4, 2003 by Hollywood Records. It peaked at 111 on the Billboard 200 and 23 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums.


Critical response

Bringing Down the House received mixed reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 34% based on 150 reviews, with an average rating of 4.7/10. The site's consensus reads, "Though the cast shines, they can't save this comedy, which is overly contrived and filled with outdated and offensive racial jokes."[2] On Metacritic the film has a score of 39 out of 100 based on reviews from 31 critics.[3] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade B+ on scale of A to F.[4]

Todd McCarthy of Variety magazine wrote: "There are certainly good laughs to be had. But the contrived script and bland direction prevent the film from ever developing a comic life of its own, leaving what fun there is seeming like the foundation to a rumpus room that's never finished."[5]

Box office

On a budget of $35 million, the film became a surprise hit, spending three weeks at No. 1 in the United States. It earned $132.6 million in the United States and an international gross of $32 million, bringing its worldwide gross to $164.6 million.[1] As of March 2009, it is ranked No. 231 of the All Time Top Grossing USA Motion Pictures.[6]


Queen Latifah

Steve Martin


  1. ^ a b "Bringing Down the House". The Numbers.
  2. ^ "Bringing Down the House (2003)". Rotten Tomatoes.
  3. ^ "Bringing Down the House". Metacritic.
  4. ^ "Cinemascore". CinemaScore. Archived from the original on 2018-12-20. Retrieved 2019-08-29.
  5. ^ McCarthy, Todd (February 23, 2003). "Bringing Down the House". Variety (magazine).
  6. ^ "All-Time USA Box office". IMDb.

External links

This page was last edited on 9 January 2021, at 22:01
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