The Tuxedo

on September 27, 2002 by Wade Major
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For all its good intentions, "The Tuxedo" is more like the kind of one-size-fits-all dinner jacket that fancy restaurants keep on hand to dandy-up those who need it. More time and tailoring might have created something truly special, but as it stands, "The Tuxedo" is simply passable, falling into a void somewhere between "Spy Kids" and "Charlie's Angels" where neither children nor adults are likely to feel fully satisfied.

Jackie plays Jimmy Tong, a hard-driving cabbie whose reputation lands him a job as chauffeur for a James Bond-like superspy named Clark Devlin (Jason Isaacs). Not that Devlin and Jimmy are really all that different--Devlin may be suave and debonair, but it's his high-tech tuxedo that does most of the work. It's a billion-dollar marvel that enables its wearer to defy gravity, climb walls, fight deadly or even dance funky--pretty much anything and everything. But when a bomb attack puts Devlin in the hospital, it's Jimmy who has to suit up and save the day in his boss's name.

The story is almost too absurd to describe--a crazy bottled water tycoon named Banning (Ritchie Coster) plots to corner the world market by contaminating reservoirs with a deadly bacteria--but first he has to defeat Jimmy and his unlikely partner, a feisty scientist-turned-spy named Del Blaine (Jennifer Love Hewitt).

Though "The Tuxedo" is unquestionably slick--veteran commercial director Kevin Donovan has no shortage of style--it never really overcomes the crippling lack of focus or originality. Much has been borrowed from better sources--the Bond films and "The Green Hornet" as well as some of Chan's earlier Hong Kong efforts--with little attention paid to stitching the disparate elements and gimmicky ideas into a more cohesive whole.

In fairness, the movie does have its moments--both Jackie and Love Hewitt are charming and amusing, and their pairing manifests some surprising chemistry--but the lulls between the moments are, at times, crushingly dull if not distracting, often detouring into the kind of third-rate Frank Tashlin-style cartoonery that wouldn't have made the cut in a Jerry Lewis film.

If "The Tuxedo" had been made 15 years ago, with a younger Jackie and a better script, and placed in the hands of a director more accustomed to the genre, it might have worked. With this present confluence of elements, however, the seams aren't just showing, they're coming apart. Starring Jackie Chan, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Jason Isaacs, Debi Mazar, Ritchie Coster and Peter Stormare. Directed by Kevin Donovan. Written by Michael J. Wilson and Michael Leeson. Produced by Adam Schroeder and John H. Williams. A DreamWorks release. Action/Comedy. Rated PG-13 for action violence, sexual content and language. Running time: 99 min

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