To paraphrase the sage Milhouse Van Houten, “Hey, look! It’s Jim Carrey! And he’s doing stuff!”
The “stuff” that Jim Carrey was doing was tarnishing the amazing legacy of Dr. Seuss with this vivid, wildly unnecessary adaptation that reeked of commercialism. While it wasn’t a horrible, horrible film, Carrey manages to leave his fingerprints all over every film he appears in, so co-opting this classic as a Jim Carrey film didn’t resonate with critics at all. Audiences were a different story, as this guy pulled in a cool $260 million. I guess no matter how bad your film is, a big name and a Christmas theme cause it to turn a profit.
This mess of a film caused everyone to cite the whole “M. Night is in decline” refrain again, which people have been saying since his Unbreakable days. I wonder how that guy approaches his projects now. I haven’t seen enough of them to formulate an opinion, but this one took a beloved, accessible TV show, and turned it into an M. Night Shyamalan film, which hasn’t been a good thing recently. The film scored a 6% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, which is NOT good, but good enough to get over $130 million, I guess.
Wait. Don’t leave.
This film saw Steve Martin dabbling in Eddie Murphy territory, forgoing all his comedic talents for mass-marketed family fair that more often than not involves stereotypes and lazy characters. He’s since gone on to more mature romantic comedy fare, but I wish he could just get back to solid movies like L.A. Story.
Bringing Down the House was a classic, “White people are like this, black people are like this film,” which seems a little base for Steve Martin, but apparently not for millions of Americans.