Reviewed by: Douglas Downs
|Featuring:||Samuel L. Jackson, Luke Goss, Eugene Levy, Miguel Ferrer|
|Producer:||Rob Fried, Mathew Hart, Bill Straus|
|Distributor:||New Line Cinema|
One guy walks the walk. The other talks and talks.
Mismatched-buddy films have been always been a constant for the film industry. You don’t necessarily have to have a great script. Just put two likeable actors together and see what happens. It is usually a pretty low risk investment. I know that I’ve seen my share of interesting match ups. This one isn’t the worst, but it certainly isn’t the best. If you have seen the trailer… you have already seen the best parts of this flic.
Eugene Levy plays the hapless schnook who gets into another crises way over his head. He fits well into the character of Wisconsin dental-supply salesman Andy Fiddler. There are many that like the comedic resume’ of this actor. He is best known for playing the well meaning but wildly out-of-the-loop father in the “American Pie” movies. Other films include “Bringing Down the House,” “A Mighty Wind” and “Best in Show”. This time our poor “why me?” is mistaken for an international arms dealer. He reluctantly finds himself in the middle of a federal sting operation.
The problem is “The Man” is never as funny as it could be. Most of the laugh gimmicks involve flatulence in an elevator with four nuns. Our writers are desperate for laughs and put this gag in again. Our man is teamed up with Samuel L. Jackson. Jackson (who could use some more of the “force”) is Derrick Vann, a federal Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agent who is trying to overcome a cloud of suspicion. His partner has been slain, and he discovers that he was on the take with a gang of international arms dealers. His boss (Miguel Ferrer) believes he is also connected and gives him 48 hours to clear his name. After all, you can’t have a good suspenseful crime drama without an impending deadline.
Enter Andy Fiddler, innocently having breakfast in a coffee shop, who is mistaken for an arms buyer by one of the dealers. Soon Andy finds himself holding a paper bag containing a large revolver and a cell phone, the latter so the arms merchant can keep in close contact. Andy also finds himself saddled with Derrick, who takes him under his wing and turns him into a reluctant partner.
It’s the old mismatched-buddy, fish-out-of-water plot that still shows some promise, though it is largely unfulfilled here. Levy’s quizzical, surprised looks can only go so far in a script that includes a subplot about Derrick’s unhappy little daughter and her desire to have her workaholic divorced daddy see her dance recital. Of course, we will later visit the school auditorium to see it.
Director Les Mayfield, a master of such formula films as “Miracle on 34th Street,” “Flubber” and “Blue Streak,” doesn’t gain much inspiration from this formulaic, by-the-numbers script. His big car chase scene suffers from the same problem that has plagued such recent films as “Transporter 2” and “The Island”: too many fast-edited close-ups of actors and car exteriors don’t translate into rampaging action that allows the audience to get a focus on the overall scene.
“The Man” is filled with lots of oddball lines that never really fit. Parents should know there is plenty of profanity in this film. That it includes at least one use of the f-word, an abundance of obscenities and an offensive sound track running in the background.
I really cannot recommend this movie as a good comedy or a decent escape for discerning adults. Don’t take my word for it… it ONLY accomplished a 16% National Film Critic Approval Rating, it opened in 6th place in the top ten, and it only earned a measly 4.1 mil. Yes, this one will soon be on the DVD shelves and no doubt hyped with extra features. It is easy to see from the sloppy editing that the director really did not intend this studio standard to be PG-13. I’m sure that they will bank on an unedited version to lure the Levy and Jackson fans.