The Tuxedo Review
It's not that Hollywood doesn't know what to do with Jackie Chan. On paper, The Tuxedo is perfect for him: an action comedy about a bumbling chauffeur who is forced to impersonate a spy with the aid of a special tuxedo that gives him superpowers. It's just the kind of silly adventure Chan might appear in back in his native Hong Kong. The problem is not that Hollywood can't find Jackie the right material, the problem is that Hollywood seems to have forgotten how to make entertainment.
Chan's not the only talent who is being ill-served by bad writers and worse directors. Eddie Murphy is as funny as anyone alive and look at some of the garbage he's reduced to appearing in. Pluto Nash plugged him into a stupid sci-fi action movie and asked him to play straight-man to a robot while the director showed off the special effects. If Hollywood royalty like Murphy can't find a decent role, what chance does Jackie Chan have? A gifted physical comedian whose best films have been compared to Buster Keaton's work, here he is squandered in a role that might as well have gone to Jason Biggs.
The central part of Jimmy Tong certainly might been written for Biggs. An opening scene has him pining over a beautiful shop assistant he is too shy to ask out. Jackie Chan is 48 years old. A man approaching 50 who dresses in a Hooters T-shirt and is afraid to talk to girls is not cute, he needs pyschiatric help. Nevertheless, he's hired by a top secret government agency to be the driver for suave spy Clark Devlin (Jason Isaacs). You might think a secret agent who is driven on missions by a chauffeur would be a little conspicuous but never mind, the two are soon friends. Then Devlin is critically injured and he asks Jimmy to put on his tuxedo and take over.
That's just the beginning. There's a lot more plot, way too much for a 90 minute comedy. Jimmy is joined by a trainee agent played by Jennifer Love Hewitt and they bicker a lot and get into plenty of fights and farcical situations while investigating the case Devlin was working on, which involves an evil bottled water manufacturer. Yes, an evil bottled water manufacturer. Hollywood is that desperate for villains! The nasty water tycoon has invented a bacteria which, if deposited in the world's tap water supplies, will make anyone drinking it dehydrate.
There's more but who cares? You don't go to these films for the plot - that should be a clothesline to hang the set-pieces on. As weak as this script is, good films have been made from worse writing and there are scenes here that a gifted director could have turned into comic highlights. Unfortunately first time director Kevin Donovan misses almost every opportunity and hurries through each potentially funny sequence with graceless haste, killing the material and denying his star the chance to show off what he does best while giving him plenty of complicated English dialogue to stumble over.
Jackie tries hard and I felt quite sorry for him, putting in so much effort for so little return. His co-star Jennifer Love Hewitt demonstrates again that she's not a very good comedian and in my opinion she's not even good value as eye-candy anymore. At 23, she looks like a bony old woman. Jason Isaacs makes a good impression in a handful of scenes and delivers the film's only memorable line of dialogue - "Never ask a woman for advice on women." Wise words actually. It's not just the actors who are wasted. (Did I mention Peter Stormare plays another mad scientist?) The production values here are state of the art and almost as good as Chicago's. The difference is Chicago has a director who knows how to use his cast and crew for maximum effect and The Tuxedo doesn't.