THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


I don't approach Jackie Chan movies the same way I approach most other movies. That's because I know that there's a style and a feel to Jackie Chan movies. They are tongue-in-cheek, meant only for mindless fun. Plot and characterization don't matter; it's all about Chan doing his inimitable thing. To expect anything more of these pictures would be setting oneself up for disappointment. And so I walked into The Tuxedo the same way I would any other movie starring Jackie Chan: my brain went all the way off and I sat back to have a good time.

I mention this because The Tuxedo is bound to be enjoyed by some, hated by others. It is a goofy movie. Real goofy. Being goofy is its whole reason for being. At least the movie is honest about itself. Goofy doesn't go over too well with everybody, I know. You have to be prepared for this kind of thing.

Jackie Chan's high-tech penguin suit allows him to kick butt in The Tuxedo
See if you can get through this plot synopsis without laughing. Chan plays Jimmy, a scruffy Manhattan cabbie who is hired to chauffeur a government spy named Clark Devlin (Jason Isaacs). Devlin is seriously injured in duty and a distraught Jimmy consoles himself by trying on the man's tuxedo. He quickly discovers that the suit is high-tech. A wristwatch issues commands that the suit carries out, from fighting maneuvers to ballroom dancing. Whoever wears the tuxedo automatically has all the capabilities of a superspy. Jimmy likes the tux and picks up where Devlin's mission left off. A bad guy plans to inject the world's water supply with a bacteria strain that makes people dehydrate. The only cure is drinking his own spring water, which acts as an anecdote. Seeing as he is maniacally dangerous, the villain must be stopped. Fortunately, Jimmy has the penguin suit.

Did you make it? This is actually a movie that imagines an evil genius achieving world domination through drinking water. Like I said - goofy. Armed with the world's most amazing article of clothing, Jimmy sets out to stop the bad guy. Assisting him is a sexy young government agent/water specialist named Del Blaine (Jennifer Love Hewitt). Along the way, they have all kinds of misadventures, including a run-in with Godfather of Soul James Brown. Jimmy accidentally knocks Brown unconscious, then uses the tux to impersonate him onstage. Goofy!

The Tuxedo is more of a comedy than most of Chan's movies. There are a couple of action scenes but most of the emphasis is on humor. I suppose that might disappoint some fans. I thought it was kind of fun to see the actor go this route for a change. His action movies have always had a comedic element, so a flat-out comedy isn't that big a stretch. Besides, Chan is really funny, continuing to draw inspiration from the great silent movie comedians.

The odd couple pairing of Chan and Hewitt is kind of funny too. For a guy with enough charisma to carry the show, Chan is surprisingly good at working with other people (such as previous costars Chris Tucker and Owen Wilson). Hewitt is just about the least likely government agent you could imagine, but I suppose that's part of the fun. It's amusing just watching her share the screen with Chan - kind of like watching Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito stand next to each other in Twins.

Let me say again that The Tuxedo is goofy. Do not attempt to apply logic or reason to it. This is merely a spoof of James Bond movies that wants to tickle your funny bone a little bit. It's good goofy fun if you approach it the right way. If you approach it in that Jackie Chan kind of way.

( out of four)

The Tuxedo is rated PG-13 for action violence, sexual content and language. The running time is 1 hour and 39 minutes.

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