August 11, 2003

Bringing Down the House

Our friend did indeed join us last night for dinner and a movie as we had hoped she would. The meal was excellent; we marinated turkey breast in a mixture of lemon, oregano, garlic powder, and olive oil for a total of four hours and then broiled it. Andrew made a side of steamed baby carrots flavored with lemon and dill and with my assistance, a nice garden salad. Our guest was kind enough to bring along a round of rosemary olive oil bread. We don't normally eat grains, but this was a special occasion.

We all thought the movie Bringing Down the House was hilarious. Peter Sanderson, who was played by actor Steve Martin, is a divorced lawyer and not a particularly fun guy. He meets a female lawyer (Queen Latifah) in a chat room who is seemingly not only intelligent, but gorgeous. The picture he was given shows a blonde being interviewed in the foreground, outside of what looks to be like a court house. She tells him her name is Charlene. Peter misrepresented himself to her slightly, describing his hair as "boyish." Both consent to meet each other in real-life. This was set to occur at Peter's home in the suburbs, across the street from his prying neighbor's house who also happens to be related to his boss.

Peter spends considerable time getting everything all prepared for his date, setting out the meal, trying on an array of clothing, and creating an atmosphere complete with candle light. When Charlene arrives, he saunters over to the door with champagne in hand. Standing outside was entirely not what he had been expecting: a big black woman wearing cutoffs. She enters and inspects all of his considerations, particularly the food and the candles. Peter quickly detours her from the meal and extinguishes the flames. Charlene turns out to be an ex-con, who pores over law books while locked up in the pen, that wants Peter to help her make an appeal because she's been framed for armed robbery. He insists that she make her departure and she vehemently refuses to do so peacefully. Once outside again she begins to yell loud enough for the neighbors to hear all about Peter's contrived baby that she supposedly gave birth to and he subsequently abandoned. His neighbor (Betty White), upon hearing the clamor, comes outside to investigate. Peter assures her that there was nothing out of the ordinary, but he has to allow Charlene back inside for the moment. When it occurs to Peter to phone the police and just have her removed from the premises, she pulls out logs of their conversations she had with him from inside the prison. Instead, he shows her to a guest room where she spends the night.

The next morning, Peter lures Charlene into coming outside with the talk of bagels accompanied with discussion of her criminal case. There are no bagels and when she discovers this, she turns to run back inside, but Peter has slyly locked the back door behind them. He also carefully disposed of all evidence of their conversations with one another, from her copies to the records on his own hardrive. Her things are waiting for her atop the garbage can. Peter left her like that to go and pick up his children from his ex-wife's house. They were supposed to accompany Peter to Hawaii while his ex goes away on a lover's retreat. No one in the home is precisely thrilled to see him, least of all his ex-sister in-law. Peter had to cancel their trip because he has this new multi-million dollar account he is trying to land for his law firm. His ex-wife's boy-toy comes to pick her up. He's significantly younger than her and at one time he even caddied for Peter. He's all over her from the moment he walks in. Despite appearances, the two divorcees still harbor feelings for each other.

Peter returns back home with his children to find that Charlene has taken over his house. She has some thugs posted outside that are collecting admission for "charity" that Peter has to get past. He threatens to call the cops again and they let him in, at no charge. There are all sorts of people he doesn't know having a good time in his pool and inside. He finds Charlene getting a weave and ahead at gambling. They exchange words and Peter ends up getting tossed into the pool. Shortly after that, the people started to weed out. Charlene was cleaning up the mess they left and Peter convinces her that she should leave. After she gets her money back from Peter's son she does just that. The rest the movie is spent vying for the heiress' business, getting Charlene's name cleared while maintaining appearances, and forging relationships with the right people.

I received an enormous sense of satisfaction from watching the fight scene between Peter's former sister in-law and Charlene. They both kicked some serious ass, but in the end, Charlene prevailed as was only right. I'm not sure this is a movie that I want to run out and add to my collection as soon as it premiers in the previously-viewed DVD section at Hollywood Video. I'll have to wait and see how I feel about it then.

-- CrystalShiloh @ 02:45 PM