Ratner keeps 'Rush Hour 3' fast and fluffy

[Read this review here or at the new Scene-Stealers 2.0!!][1]**1/2You've got to hand it to Brett Ratner. He knows how to make a formula comedy breeze by in an efficient 90 minutes."Rush Hour 3," the first movie in the Chris Tucker/Jackie Chan franchise in six years, was not really begging to be made. Yet here it is, with a 53 year-old Chan and Tucker, who hasn't been in a movie since "Rush Hour 2." The plot is as preposterous as silly action comedies get, the stars still can't convince me that they even really like each other, and the humor is as obvious and lowbrow as you would expect.In other words, "Rush Hour 3³ is the ultimate distraction. Whenever a scene threatens to drag or get too cheesy, director Ratner cuts to the next one. If too much exposition threatens to slow down the pace, he moves on. Ratner is smart enough to know that we will forgive lapses in logic as long as the jokes and the action keeps coming.![][2]Having directed both other "Rush Hour" films, Ratner (also responsible for "Red Dragon" and "X-Men: The Last Stand") understands that the pleasures of this kind of a buddy movie are fleeting. It is the kind of movie that you can leave behind the moment you leave the theater. But while it's onscreen, it is worth some easy chuckles and minor thrills.Take this, for example. Motormouthed L.A. cop James Carter (Tucker) does a riff on the classic Abbott and Costello "Who's on First?" routine with two Chinese baddies named Mee and Yu, and it's actually funny. In a clever bit of affectionate stereotyping (during the requisite montage where our heroes are mad at each other and split up), Ratner shows that they can't help but miss each other as well. Lee (Chan) orders soul food room service and watches naked Africans on a National Geographic special slap each other around while Carter orders Chinese takeout and laughs at unforgivable little Asian cliche Short Round in "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" on a TV at the restaurant.Like the first two "Rush Hour" movies, racial and cultural differneces are still mined for laughs, but now Ratner can also add the French to that list. Through a series of implausible circumstances, Carter and Lee find themselves in Paris, which could have served as an excuse for all sorts of anti-French jokes. Instead, it is the violent American culture that is satirized, as a newly adrenalized Parisain cabbie tells our heroes he is sad he cannot hang out with his them because his wife does not approve. He is disappointed that now he'll never be able to "kill someone for no reason."![][3]How absurd does this story thread get? Here's how: The anti-war sentiment is started early in the film with the cab driver making comments about the war-hungry U.S. losing in Vietnam and Iraq. It is later brought to an absurd conclusion when Edwin Starr's iconic "War" ("What is it good for?/absolutely nothing/say it again") is played over the closing credits. Keep in mind that this follows a long fight scene atop the Eiffel Tower and after a bad guy gets shot in the back.A strange cameo by Oscar-winning director Roman Polanski is funny only in how unfunny it is, and 78 year-old acting legend Max Von Sydow's role is as flavorless as hour-old chewing gum. A lamebrained subplot involving Lee's evil brother is meant to show how close Carter and Lee have become, but no matter how badly the script wants us to believe this, the evidence is not onscreen. Tucker and Chan still have virtually no chemistry together. So why does this movie work?Give some credit to screenwriter Jeff Nathanson (who is also writing the fourth Indiana Jones movie) for scripting some funny moments and to the stunt coordinators and director of photography for some great action set pieces. He also makes sure that many of Tucker's funniest scenes involve virtually no interplay with Chan.Mostly, however, credit should go to Ratner for making keeping such a brisk pace. Anything that fails onscreen only registers for a brief moment, and then he moves on. The best thing I can say about Ratner's direction is that he has made what is so very familiar also seem impossibly fast and fluffy. [1]: http://www.scene-stealers.com/print-reviews/ratner-keeps-rush-hour-3-fast-and-fluffy/ [2]: http://a123.g.akamai.net/f/123/12465/1d/media.canada.com/2de3e3f6-b472-4835-9142-3ead50913788/rush.jpg?size=l [3]: http://www.nydailynews.com/img/2007/08/10/amd_rush_hour.jpg

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