***1/2 (out of 5)
September 29, 2005
Samuel L. Jackson as DERRICK VANN
Eugene Levy as ANDY FIDLER
Luke Goss as JOEY
Miguel Ferrer as AGENT PETERS
Anthony Mackie as BOOTY
Susie Essman as RITA CARBONE
Horatio Sanz as DIAZ
Rachael Crawford as DARA VANN
Studio: New Line Cinema
Directed by: Les Mayfield
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
This year has been a bizarre year for movies. It literally has some of the best and worst things I’ve seen in a while. The year started off rocky, but things really picked up during the summer. While there may be fewer five-star movies out there, this summer was a great time to see some really good films.
However, once Labor Day passes, we pass into the doldrums of the fall. Kids are back in school, so there are fewer of them at the multiplex. The big summer blockbusters have all been released, and the holiday films are still several months away. Same goes for the Oscar nods that tend to flood the market in the winter.
Some say that late August and early September are the darkest days for movies, and that’s usually true. It certainly was for the last few weeks with movies like “A Sound of Thunder” and “The Cave” stinking up the joint. I had little confidence that “The Man,” a fish-out-of-water buddy cop movie starring Eugene Levy and Samuel L. Jackson, was going to be different.
In fact, I said to a friend before seeing it, “This has ‘suck’ written all over it.”
However, as I was watching the movie, something strange happened… I started laughing. Does this mean that “The Man” is a great movie? No. It doesn’t even mean it was a good movie. It just made me laugh.
The movie itself is beyond preposterous. Eugene Levy plays a dental equipment salesman who stumbles into an arms deal orchestrated by an ATF officer played by Samuel L. Jackson. They’re stuck together as a bickering couple until they can bring down the bad guys. The stars play exactly to type. Eugene Levy reprises the roles he played in films like “American Pie” and “Waiting for Guffman.” Samuel L. Jackson gives us the honest cop take on his character Jules from “Pulp Fiction.”
But they’re both so good at these stock characters that it brings a bizarre level of charm to the movie. It’s what “Pulp Fiction” would have been if Eugene Levy had been cast as Vincent Vega instead of John Travolta. Not really a good idea, but still funny.
Is it predictable? Yes. Does it have juvenile humor throughout it? Yes. Is the story as flimsy as wet tissue paper? Absolutely. It is everything that all the other critics are going to complain about. But like the gorgeous Jessica Rabbit once told a cynical private investigator as to why she loved her freaky little husband. He made her laugh. Never underestimate the power of laughter, people. It’s what made the fat, bald Curly Howard a huge ladies man.
Ultimately, you can’t take this movie too seriously. In some ways, this film is as much of a spoof of the buddy-cop formula as it is a serious attempt to make another “Lethal Weapon” or “Rush Hour.” I wouldn’t expect Levy and Jackson to become cinema icons like the famous comedy duos Laurel & Hardy or Abbot & Costello. They’re more like the less-famous comedy duo of Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan.
They do put on a good show… as long as you’re not expecting something great.