Jimmy Fallon may have retired from Saturday Night Live, but he hasn’t quite left his late-night band of brothers behind. Taxi, his schlocky-as-I-wanna-be debut as a movie star, is such a rusty vehicle that it might as well have been a showcase for Rob Schneider or Chris Kattan. How funny is Andy Washburn, the New York cop played by Fallon with a boyishness so casual it looks as if he barely memorized his lines? He’s so funny that he’s…a really bad driver. Are you laughing yet?
Stripped of his license, Washburn teams up with Belle (Queen Latifah), a sassy, brassy, bossy, funky taxi driver who zigzags through traffic jams at 100 miles per hour. Stuck in the passenger seat, Fallon screams, he does lame bits in ”black” dialect (”By the time we call it in, that soupa be cold!”), he chirps along with Natalie Cole’s ”This Will Be” in what may be the uncoolest hipster-karaoke routine in the history of buddy comedies. He does everything but carry a placard that reads ”Help! If I knew they were gonna have two chicks anchor ‘Weekend Update,’ I would never have left the show!” Like a lot of people, I have such affection for Fallon that I root for him to be great. Yet why would a performer with this much going for him — speedball wit, devil-choirboy looks, that celebrated cameo in Almost Famous — squander his appeal on Taxi, an action-choked dud in which even the closing outtakes barely deserve to be left on the cutting-room floor? If this is going Hollywood, please send Jimmy Fallon somewhere else.