The PG-13 rating is ridiculous, and ought to be the occasion for protest to the Motion Picture Association of America and to the Disney Company, which produced this embarrassing offal. The sexual content alone (including scenes described by the characters as “humping,” and highly specific references to testicles and other intimate parts) should have earned an obvious R rating—but then there’s also abundant drug content, crude language, and even violent brawls and gunplay.

Queen Latifah certainly exudes likeability and charisma, but no performer--not matter how much larger than life--could bring vitality and conviction to this ridiculous characterization. After watching her exploitation in this by-the-numbers recycling of insulting stereotypes, her current Oscar nomination looks even more questionable. Steve Martin fares little better, and a climactic sequence in which he’s supposed to suddenly transform himself into a superfly hip hop tough guy in the style of Eminem (complete with dance moves, costume and funny, Mike Tyson-sound-alike voice) comes across as more feeble than the worst old sketch from "Saturday Night Live". Martin fares much better when he doesn’t try so hard to be a Wild and Crazy Guy (remember his winning work in Roxanne) and one can only hope that he’ll remember that lesson when he steps up to the big stage to host the Oscar show two weeks from now. No one will win Academy nominations of any kind for Bringing Down the House, though we may keep it in mind for Golden Turkey Awards.  (ONE AND A HALF STARS).