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Laramie Movie Scope:
The Tuxedo

Frantic action can't hide a forest of lame jokes

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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October 8, 2002 -- I like Jackie Chan movies, but "The Tuxedo" is a real disappointment. It has plenty of stunts and action, but the plot is very weak and the jokes are a bigger bust than recent NASDAQ returns. Joke after tired joke falls flat.

Jackie, and co-star Jennifer Love Hewitt of "Heartbreakers" try their best to breathe some life into this corpse of a film, but it just won't wake up. Jackie plays Jimmy Tong, a cab driver hired to be a driver for a James Bond-like secret agent named Clark Devlin (played by Jason Isaacs of "Black Hawk Down"). When Devlin is injured, Tong dons Devlin's high tech tuxedo and is transformed into a daring secret agent. The joke is, of course, that Jackie Chan, one of the greatest stunt performers in the world, is helpless without the suit. O.K. it is a slight joke at best. Hewitt plays Del Blaine, a novice secret agent and expert on water-borne toxins. She is assigned to help Devlin uncover a conspiracy to poison public water supplies. For some reason, she thinks Tong is Devlin.

Some of Jackie's trademark stunts still light up the screen, but there are far fewer of them than there were 15 years ago when Jackie was in his prime. Quite of few of the stunts are jazzed up with digital effects, but it doesn't help. Even in a vacuous action comedy movie, there needs to be some point to all the action and stunts. In short, there needs to be a story underlying the action. This film is lacking in that regard. The magic isn't there. The stunts, the slapstick and the comedy bits lack imagination. Some of the slapstick bits are painfully inept. Good jokes are few and far between. I thought "Rush Hour 2" was bad, but it looks pretty good compared to "The Tuxedo."

I don't really blame Jackie Chan for this lackluster film. He is a proven star. I thought Hewitt did as well as she could under the circumstances. A couple of the better performers in the film did not get enough screen time, the talented Peter Stormare has a supporting role as Dr. Simms, a mad scientist, and Jason Isaacs makes a great secret agent, but he spends most of the film in a coma in a hospital bed. Most of the other characters, including the run-of-the-mill megalomaniac villain, are forgettable. I think the problem lies in the script by a committee of screenwriters (Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi of "Crazy/Beautiful" and Michael J. Wilson of "Ice Age" came up with the story and Wilson and Michael Leeson of "What Planet are You From?" wrote the screenplay). The story flounders most of the time. The plot is full of holes and it just doesn't add up. First-time director Kevin Donovan does not rescue this project the way that first-time director Sam Mendes rescued "American Beauty." Somebody needed to rescue it at some point. It isn't a bad idea for a movie, but it is poorly executed. It is as flat as a week-old soda. This film rates a D.

Click here for links to places to buy this movie in video and/or DVD format, the soundtrack, books, even used videos, games and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information. Click here for some publicity stills from The Tuxedo.

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Copyright © 2002 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)