The movie — set in Motown but obviously shot on the "kindler, gentler" Toronto soil — opens with dental equipment salesman Andy (Eugene Levy) talking to his wife about his impending business trip to Detroit. "Just be careful," she warns, "Detroit is not Wisconsin." No offense to the cheese-scarfing Badger-lovers, but thank God it’s not.
Upon his arrival in Detroit, Andy inadvertently gets mixed up with ill-tempered federal agent Vann (Samuel L. Jackson) and is roped into helping him bust some slick gun thieves. The duo stretch not an inch from type: Jackson playing the bad-ass mofo smack-talking cop, and Levy playing the dorky, goody-goody, clueless doof.
If you can get over the "gets in trouble in big, bad, mean Detroit" premise, what you have left is a fairly wan, odd-couple/buddy-cop comedy, complete with the requisite ebony meets ivory humor, some scatological gags and a couple of gag-inducing soft spots.
When Levy predictably adopts Jackson’s vernacular, man, it’s a real scream. He’s, like, sooooo ... white. Can you just picture it? You surely can if you saw Bringing Down the House.
As for the tender moments, family man Andy helps Vann learn to trust again, and helps him reconnect with his young daughter, who just happens to have a ballet recital her daddy says he’ll have to miss. You’re excused if you’re too busy washing down cheese curds with a can of Milwaukee’s Best to care.
Clare Pfeiffer Ramsey writes about film for Metro Times. E-mail [email protected].