Taxi director Tim Story must have really enjoyed Queen Latifah’s tough-girl, don’t-you-be-givin’-me-no-lip stand-up routine in Barbershop 2. Because he’s pretty much left her character intact here. All he’s really done is give her a new, um, vehicle in which to crack wise and verbally pummel everyone within earshot. In her hands is a steering wheel instead of a hairbrush—she’s a New York City cabbie who runs her car as fast as her mouth. Inexplicably, her name has been changed to Belle.
Along for the ride is Saturday Night Live alum Jimmy Fallon, who tries to fill the big clown shoes of a bumbling NYC cop on the verge of being fired for sheer incompetence. Oh yeah, and he can’t drive to save his life. You see where this is going, right? Busted down to foot patrol, Washburn hears a radio call indicating that a bank just up the street is being robbed. He hails a cab—Belle’s—and tells her to step on it. Those words are music to her ears. In three seconds flat they’re at the bank and in hot pursuit of a Bimmer full of beautiful burglars … from Brazil.
Belle refuses to put pedestrians’ lives at risk even though it means she’ll lose sight of the bad girls. (Other drivers, though, don’t fare so well.) Washburn is a major goof, but he’s a lovable goof; he means well and he does his best to take a bite out of crime in the Big Apple.
The burglar babes’ bodies are exploited for all they’re worth. At various times the women wear cleavage-revealing blouses, extremely short skirts and bikini tops. (And the camera leisurely soaks it all in while such songs as “Wild Thing” pound in the background.) When Washburn’s female lieutenant is held hostage, one of the women frisks her. And then frisks her some more. In the process she sensuously massages her breasts and grabs her backside, actions that cause (male) police officers to drool.
Belle and her man kiss passionately, prompting Washburn’s mom to exclaim that watching them is like getting Pay Per View. Sniffing perfume, Belle’s beau tells her that the only thing he likes on her is himself. Euphemisms for sex and sexual organs are concocted. Sly sexual banter is traded.
Early on, Washburn’s partner gets shot in the arm. Later, Belle takes a bullet to the shoulder and has to be rushed to a hospital. (A glimpse of blood spreading on clothing is the only gore seen.) Other gunfights occur on the street and in a repair garage, but it’s not clear if anyone else gets hit. Bullets don’t do the most damage here, though. Crashes win that prize. High speed chases consume the bulk of the movie’s screen time. And the amount of metallic litter they leave behind is impressive. At one point an entire street is filled up with colliding cars. Elsewhere, a car explodes. Another slams into a hospital.
Belle and Washburn mix it up (comedically) a couple of times, with Belle always getting the upper hand. She takes his gun away from him, mashes him up against a wall with her forearm, and sends him sprawling. One of the bad girls punches out Washburn and Belle.
Twice the obscene term “m—–f—er” is begun, but not completed. The s-word is said (or sung) in its entirety about 10 times. Milder profanity brings the bad language total to well over 50. Jesus’ name is abused twice. God’s name is linked to “d–n” three or four times.
Washburn’s mother is a lush and she’s seen drunk several times. Margaritas seem to be her drug of choice, and she’s always downing them. Worse, her addiction is played strictly for laughs. After opening the nozzle on a bottle of nitrous oxide, Washburn and Belle both start giggling and carrying on from the high.
It doesn’t matter if Belle is chasing criminals or driving to the ball, she always speeds. And according to Washburn’s lieutenant, the modifications she’s made to her taxi clash with 27 motor vehicle codes. She has racked up more than 70 moving violations with her bicycle and her car.
Using deceit to get ahead on his case, Washburn tells Belle, “Sometimes a good cop’s gotta bend the rules so that laws don’t get broken. I’m not afraid of living outside the law.” Taking him at his word, evidently, Belle stuffs bundles of stolen cash into her pockets when they find the thieves’ hideout.
The Fast and the Furious gets funny with Queen Latifah behind the wheel. That should have been Taxi‘s tagline. But what most teens are going to remember about this movie isn’t Latifah’s punishing wit. It’s the scene in which a bombshell bank robber fondles a female cop. Supermodel Gisele Bündchen, who played that role, recalls getting embarrassed while she was being filmed—not that that stopped her from doing it. “In the beginning I was touching her like this, just lightly,” she told IGN Entertainment’s FilmForce. “Then [director] Tim [Story] said, ‘Remember, your character is strong, confident. … She’s reckless.’ I was like, ‘OK.’ I said [to Jennifer Esposito], “I’m so sorry, I’m going to have to touch you. … Everyone around was laughing, ‘Yeah! Go! Frisk her! Frisk her!” Why did the scene drag out so long? “The producers [were] probably thinking, ‘OK, what are men going to like?’ Two girls touching themselves. Great!'”