starring Jackie Chan and Jennifer Love Hewitt
Often, the first image of a movie serves as a metaphor for the whole thing. In The Tuxedo, the first image is a deer buck pissing in a clear mountain stream, with the pee-taminated water making its way through nasty pipes until it finally ends up in a nice clean-looking bottle at a bottled-water plant. Is this a veiled reference to the movie being a big pile of pee tarted up to look like a consumer product? Or is the reference maybe not so veiled?
For a movie that looks like it's trying for that hateful "family" audience, The Tuxedo is surprisingly crude. It feels like it was made by and for 11-year-old boys, particularly the ones who love big boobs but who still haven't gotten over the idea that girls are icky. As a reviewer, I admit I went into this movie intending to make a bunch of cheap cracks about Jennifer Love Hewitt's breasts in the review. What I didn't know was that the movie was going to beat me to the punch, and that the cracks would be a lot cheaper than the ones I had planned.
Hollywood had been pairing Jackie Chan up with various American-type co-stars for a while; who could forget Owen Wilson in Shanghai Noon or that other guy, whatisname, in Rush Hour --Chris Tucker, right. Now the plan seems to be to glue him to 90s cutie Hewitt, but Jackie's English being what it is and he being 50 as he is, they don't try for a romantic storyline. Instead, we just get Jackie fooling around in his magical tuxedo while everybody else in the movie tries to look down Hewitt's dress.
Unfortunately Hewitt, who said in a recent interview that her breasts' career was doing better than hers, has been starving her breasts into submission for months, so there's hardly any payoff. And although The Tuxedo's game plan leans heavily on gags about her boobs, it never quite gets up the guts to unfurl its tongue and really leer, as was done in Hewitt's 2001 flop Heartbreakers.
All this talk about breasts probably seems out of place in a review of a Jackie Chan movie. Perhaps, but there's little else to talk about. There's something oddly amateurish about The Tuxedo. Part of it is the performances, Jackie's clumsy English clicking not at all with Hewitt's snarky teenager persona. With the two leads acting like they're in two different high-school drama productions, you can't really take too much of it seriously -- even *comedy* seriously. And then there's the lunk-headed bumbliness of the plot, which wanders around goofily to no particular purpose, recalling the live-action Inspector Gadget.
A bigger problem is that Jackie's signature ass-kicking fight routines, his environmental martial arts where he beats people up with whatever's lying around, jumpin' through ladders and the like, never really revs up in this movie. Instead, the magic tuxedo enables scenes where Jackie gets to funk it up James-Brown style for no good reason, or fend off the advances of a dippy blonde, also for no good reason. In fact, the whole movie is for no reason. Usually, stories about somebody who gets a magic something are all about how you have to use the magic something for a while, but eventually you have to learn to rely on yourself. Cheap, but there it is. The Tuxedo just skips this part, doesn't even make a half-hearted grope for it, so it's nothing but some tepid Jackie-style action with some cheap JLH boob jokes stitched on. Normally, that'd be enough for me, but this time, it's not.