Think New York taxis are only driven by men? Think again. At first glance, Taxi seems like a typical superficial comedy with no real depth. However, after seeing the movie, audiences will realize that Taxi is actually a superficial comedy with sweet cars, hot chicks, and well-timed Jimmy Fallon jokes.

Queen Latifah and Jimmy Fallon play tough cop/stupid cop in this action-packed comedy which opened Friday. The opening scene, a wild bike ride though the heart of the city, does a good job of setting the pace of the movie. The plot, although predictable, allows the viewer to enjoy the scenery, the sweet Beemer, and the artistic maneuvers of the chase scenes. Most of the laughs come from the misfortunes of Fallon, but that?s what makes him so cute, at least to the ladies.

Taxi is, of course, not to be confused with the score of other movies of the same title about drivers of yellow cabs learning important life lessons, while having their problems solved through the art of steering vehicles through precarious situations. This particular taxi movie features the nervous joking of recently retired SNL cast member Fallon, perhaps best known for his role on ?Weekend Update,? and Queen Latifah, who has dabbled in action movies in the past, including Set It Off and The Bone Collector.

Latifah stars as Belle, a supersonic bicycle messenger who dreams of driving a taxi around at top speed. Fallon co-stars as Detective Washburn, a New York City police officer whose undercover stints end up bellyflopping more often than not. They meet when a bank is robbed and Fallon jumps in Latifah?s taxi to travel two blocks to the scene of the crime. They both get reprimanded by the police department, and Latifah?s taxi is taken away. The plot basically consists of the duo?s adventures as they desperately try to catch the robbers before the FBI do. For added pizzazz, the main bank robber is Vanessa, played by Gisele Bundchen, one of the four money-hungry Brazilian supermodels, rolling their Portuguese tongues and flashing their seductive smiles throughout the movie.

This movie is unexpectedly entertaining. Bundchen, better known as one of the world?s top supermodels, plays a non-traditional role for model-actresses, as she plays a skilled car driver and mastermind. Some gratuitous girl-on-girl action and lack of long dialogue diminishes the quality somewhat, but overall this movie is a feast for the action lover?s heart. There is not too much fire play which most action movies tend to overdo, and only a few things blow up. The classy comedic scenes make this movie a refreshing change from your typical gross-out and raunchy humor.

Another aspect that attempts to appeal to female audiences is the fact that the best drivers are women, and the worst ones are men. Latifah plays the pedal-pushing car buff, while Fallon plays the clueless license revokee who wrecks anything he touches. This reversal of the typical stereotypes garners kudos from both genders ? the boys can drool at Giselle in the BMW, while the girls can ogle at Fallon?s bottom sticking up as he tries to retrieve his dropped gun.

The juicy car chase scenes were always preceded by the transformation of Latifah?s supercharged taxi. Reminiscent of Transformer robot toys, the taxi?s superhero pushbutton changes are on-the-spot technological wonders.

The camera shots of the Manhattan skyline and architecture made me miss the beautiful island. The city?s flavor shines through with its streets filled with diverse backgrounds, tall buildings, sparkling skyline, and crazy drivers. The movie also doesn?t miss a chance to poke fun at New Jersey by having the taxi switch license plates when the taxi breaks the law, and switching back to New York plates when the taxi drives under the speed limit.

Director Tim Story, famed for his recent comedy Barbershop, tries hard to get the big bucks again with Taxi. This movie is actually an American remake of the 1998 French comedy, also named Taxi, a hit that led to two more sequels. A sequel for this version might be unlikely ? as good as the car chase scenes were, the movie just wasn?t that hilarious.

For a good time, go ahead and watch this movie. However, if you?re looking for a quality, Oscar-winning, sequel-spawning comedy, well, don?t expect the unexpected from Taxi.

Janet Park
Pillbox Editor