Jackie Chan's movies generally are excellent popcorn entertainers. The fact that
they are generally self-effacing makes them more enjoyable than typical action
films. Add the fact that the bad guys usually just get beat up, instead of blown
up or executed, and the charm increases.
But The Tuxedo tries its damndest to destroy precisely those elements in the movie.
To borrow a clothing metaphor, this is one ill-fitting suit, and it makes the
wearer look pretty darned silly.
A shy cab driver Jimmy Tong (Jackie) gets a posh gig chauffeuring a rich spy-guy around town, until an explosion puts Mr. Moneybags in the hospital and our lowly chauffeur into his coat and tails (literally). The next thing you know, he's wearing the man's super-duper-ultra-high-tech tuxedo and able to scale walls, kick mucho ass and boogie with the best of them.
Insert generic "bad guy" and Jennifer Love Phew-it into the mix and stir. Diedrich Banning (Ritchie Coster), aka bad guy, head of a leading bottled water company, is plotting a scheme so unnecessarily elaborate he'd make Dr. Evil blush. He intends to contaminate the world's water supply, and then make millions selling unadulterated water. If you think that sounds like something a 12-year-old child would dream up, you wouldn't be too far wrong.
Despite the idiotic plotting and the much too obvious CGI effects, "The Tuxedo" does have its moments, such as Jimmy subbing for 'the hardest working man in show business' James Brown (playing himself) after accidentally knocking him out backstage, a run-in with Banning's flirtatious girlfriend (Mia Cotett) in a hotel room, and some Buster Keaton-inspired mayhem as Jimmy experiments with the tuxedo's abilities. The gags are entertaining at times, but not very creative. The trailer didn't blow anyone away with its humor and creativity, and the bulk of the film plays out as such.
Unfortunately, the only entry that merits a positive mention in this category is Jackie Chan himself. He is as charmingly funny as ever, and is probably the only reason the movie does not go off the rails completely. While his chemistry with Jennifer Love Hewitt is more acidic than volatile, his flair for comedy remains in tact. Hewitt plays Blaine like a ditzy college girl, stripping the character of any actual evidence that she deserves to be a secret agent (it's a movie, I know). It doesn't help that she's saddled with unoriginal dialogue and bland zingers.
Ultimately, though, The Tuxedo tries us a little too high, by insisting that a high-tech tuxedo can enable its user to defy gravity, run as fast as a car, and generally transform an ordinary man into a debonair secret agent. David Dhawan, take note! But then again, what is a movie if not a flight of fantasy? It is just that this particular flight never quite manages to climb much higher than ground level.
The Tuxedo is mildly entertaining at times and eye-rollingly lame at others, but nothing to run out and see. But yes, if you find yourself around a theater, you might stop and take a look. The wrap-up of the film is pretty funny as Tong takes advantage of his political powers in the name of love.
One last disappointment: I was hoping for at least some quality action outtakes afterwards, a Jackie Chan film staple, but only found somewhat funny line flubs and goofs in their place. Unfortunately, that will also make a good metaphor for the film.