October 10, 2002

Disastrous Duo

Print More

Bogey and Bergman, Woody and Diane, Jackie Chan and Jennifer Love Hewitt. I’ll leave it to you to figure out which one is anomalous. This comparison may be unwarranted as The Tuxedo seems maliciously unoccupied with establishing any form of chemistry between the two leads. Still, if the filmmakers are not going to provide little details like interesting characters, the least they could do to compensate for this dearth is to give the characters dialogue that does not include “What’s with the jumpy-jumpy?” (If it helps any, a character was indeed jumping at the time, although I still fail to grasp how the screenwriter couldn’t find a synonym for “jumpy-jumpy”.)

Seriously, though: what arbiter of Jackie Chan sidekicks came up with the trinity of Chris Tucker, Owen Wilson, and Jennifer Love Hewitt? Sure, I admit it: my central criticism of Shanghai Noon was Wilson’s inadequate cleavage. Here, though, it’s like Jackie and Hewitt are in different movies. One spends a woefully inordinate amount of time staring into the vacuum of her character’s own tedium and the other ably uses cafeteria trays as weapons of mass destruction. To give the benefit of the doubt, it is not impossible that the writers merely wanted to find two characters as absurdly linked as the scenes in this movie. The “plot” goes something like this: Jackie is a timid cab driver, inexplicably recruited to join a clandestine governmental branch. While chauffeuring a valuable operative, Jackie crashes into boxes of special effects and finds himself and his new omnipotent tuxedo (equipped with the power to duplicate rare abilities only seen in Spider-Man and other Jackie Chan movies) defending the western hemisphere from a maniacal water baron bent on using what is easily the strangest arsenal of evil to be featured in a movie this year.

Jackie Chan has already demonstrated that he is an entertaining guy. He knows he doesn’t really “act,” we know he doesn’t really “act,” and frankly, we don’t mind as long as he occasionally kicks people in the head at an abandoned mill. In The Tuxedo, however, Jackie has been absorbed into the American New Wave of inane ineptitude where editing is so choppy and disorienting that it diminishes even Jackie’s anti-gravity agility. The Tuxedo fails to realize that what interests us in Jackie is his own mastery of seeming to appear from adjacent parts of the screen at the same time, not an editor’s paucity of comprehensibility. The fight scenes are equally unremarkable. The director seems to think the focus of the movie should be the tuxedo rather than Jackie, and unless one chooses to interpret its subject as an illuminating critique of the stifling control of formal dress, any real viewer will want to see Jackie do cartwheels ten feet off the ground. Even bad Jackie is good action, however, and, overall, the movie is effortlessly innocuous, not worth the price of admission perhaps, but easily worth having a newspaper buy the ticket for you.

Archived article by Alex Linhardt