Volume 96, Issue 19
Tuesday October 1, 2002

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The negative triple threat strikes again

The Tuxedo
Starring: Jackie Chan, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Ritchie Coster, Jason Issacs
Directed by: Kevin Donovan

The Tuxedo is like one of those rental tuxes you pick up for your senior prom – it looks decent enough on the outside, but once you put it on, you notice the jacket is too tight, the pants are too long and it has a strange odor.

In The Tuxedo, the film, there is an early scene that pretty much sums up the entire picture. Taxi driver Jimmy Tong (Jackie Chan) is trying to work up the nerve to ask out a pretty woman in an art gallery when the gallery owner (Colin Mochrie from Whose Line Is It Anyway?) enters the scene. The audience laughs in anticipation of something clever involving the great improv comedian, but instead Mochrie just asks Jimmy to leave.

This is just one of many missed opportunities. Tuxedo has all the ingredients in place for a fun spy movie spoof, but it never quite pulls itself together. It keeps up an entertaining pace for the first 20 minutes, including a nice opening sequence that begins with, of all things, a goat taking a leak in a stream. Following this, however, the film falls into a mess of lame one-liners and generic action.

The plot centres around Jimmy, the fastest cabbie in New York City, being hired as a driver by Clark Devlin (Jason Issacs), a suave, 007-esque secret agent for the Central Security Agency. Like Bond, Devlin is one of those flashy agents who can't grasp the concept of being "secret," which is why villains are able to easily find him and bomb his car. Before going into a coma, Devlin tells Jimmy to wear his special tuxedo, which is actually a high-tech device that makes the wearer super-fast, super-strong and an expert dancer. These are your tax dollars at work, folks: making sure that spies can dance.

Jimmy then teams up with rookie agent Del Blaine (Jennifer Love Hewitt), who mistakenly believes that Jimmy is Devlin, to stop Banning (Ritchie Coster), the evil CEO of a – this is where it gets really goofy – bottled water company. Banning is hatching an evil plan to poison the world's water supply, thus making people reliant on his product.

A few questions: why does it take so long for the CSA to realize their top agent is in the hospital? If this tuxedo is such a powerful weapon, why hasn't the government made one for all of their agents? Did Del do so little homework that she thinks this Chinese guy is named Clark Devlin? Does Banning realize that by poisoning the water supply he'll kill every animal on the planet, thus dooming humanity?

Plot holes in a Jackie Chan movie can usually be overlooked because of the incredible action, but here in lies Tuxedo's biggest flaw. Why would you cast a legendary action star renowned for doing his own stunts in a movie where most of the action is computer-generated? Director Kevin Donovan then compounds the problem by over-editing the fight scenes and chopping up the action.

What Donovan should have cut were the scenes involving Jennifer Love Hewitt. The movie isn't great as it is, but it becomes truly painful to watch her bomb joke after joke. Hewitt has now proved herself to be that rare entity in showbiz, the negative triple threat: she can't act, can't sing and isn't funny. Were it not for the invention of the Wonderbra, she wouldn't have a career at all.

If you get bored during The Tuxedo, you can entertain yourself by counting all of the Canadian commercial actors in the bit parts. No matter what Tuxedo's flaws are, you can't entirely dislike a movie that lets Jackie Chan kick the annoying Molson Ex guy across a room.

–Mark Polishuk


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