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The Man Review

By Shawn McKenzie 09/09/2005

Buddy comedies have been around for decades, but this buddy comedy, The Man, is quite possibly the most unlikely pairings I’ve seen in a long while.  If it were just a little funnier, I might buy it.

Derrick Vann (Samuel L. Jackson) is a Detroit ATF agent who becomes the target of suspicion when his partner, Wade, is killed.  Supposedly, Wade had been accepting bribes from gunrunners, which got him killed.  Derrick had no part in it, but Agent Peters (Miguel Ferrer) of Internal Affairs thinks otherwise.  Despite the assurance of Derrick’s boss, Lt. Rita Carbone (Susie Essman), that Derrick is clean, Peters is determined to find something dirty.  Derrick has other pressing matters though.  He has an ex-wife named Dara (Rachael Crawford) who is pressuring him to spend more time with their daughter, Kate (Tomorrow Baldwin Montgomery.)  She is now married to a guy named Mark (Leonard Thomas), but she would still like to see Derrick at Kate’s school play.  In the meantime, he is trying to set up a sting operation to capture a gun smuggler named Joey Trent (Luke Goss.)  Joey is trying to sell a big cache of government weaponry, and he will make a deal with the highest bidder.  After beating the information out of street hustler and snitch Booty (Anthony Mackie), he goes to the evidence supply desk cop Diaz (Horatio Sanz) to get $20,000 for some sting money.  That is where Andy Fiddler (Eugene Levy) comes in.  Andy is a nice but very talkative dental supply salesman who lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is married to his loving wife Susan (Gigi Rice), and has three kids.  He is in Detroit for a two-day convention, where he has to give a speech about the wonders of dental supplies.  Derrick, meanwhile, is using the money to buy guns and catch Joey in the act.  He has set up a deal with Joey, where his thug (Kevin Rushton) will look for a man reading a USA Today in a cafeteria and give him a bag with a gun and a cell phone in it.  Derrick goes to buy a USA Today, but the newspaper dispenser is out.  Coincidentally, Andy is reading a USA Today in the cafeteria, and the thug assumes that Andy is the guy he is looking for.  He gives Andy the bag and takes off.  Andy looks in the bag and pulls out the gun.  Surprised by it, he accidentally flails it around, scaring the crap out of the customers, including the waitress (Lindsay Ames.)  Derrick enters the cafeteria and forces Andy into his car.  He realizes that he has to keep up the ruse of Andy being a gunrunner, so he kidnaps him and forces him to pose as “The Turk” (he is called that because he and his family went on a vacation to Turkey and bought a rug and…it’s a long, stupid story.  Let’s just say that Andy has a weird mark on his conviction record that has made everyone, including the bad guys, assume that he is a Turkish crime lord.)  Derrick gives Andy the $20,000 and makes him drop the money in a trashcan, where Joey’s associates will pick up the cash in exchange for the guns.  Andy messes it up when he gets in a scuffle with a homeless man (Christopher Murray), forcing Derrick to have to go about this sting in another way.  When a competing gunrunner ends up dead, Derrick has to use Andy just a little longer in order to bust Joey and clear his own name…if he can resist killing the annoying Andy first.

Director Les Mayfield has been down the buddy comedy road before, with better results.  In 1999, he directed the 1999 Martin Lawrence/Luke Wilson action comedy Blue Streak, which was in that brief heyday when Lawrence movies were hilarious.  I liked this movie, but I can’t say that I thought that it was the funniest thing I’ve ever seen.

Jackson and Levy actually had an unusual chemistry together.  They played their roles in the way I would have expected though.  It would have been very funny if they had switched roles (make Levy the tough cop and make Jackson the nebbish salesman.)  That would make it original to say the least.  I didn’t like the recurring flatulence jokes, but there was one scene that threatened to steal the show.  It was a scene where “The Turk” had his assistant (Derrick) identify himself to Joey.  Andy called Derrick his b***h, and made tough guy Derrick repeat it, gnashing his teeth the whole time.

Otherwise, the movie didn’t produce a lot of chuckles out of me.  The whole subplot involving his ex-wife was just thrown in I believe in order to fill time, since the movie overall was only 83 minutes long.  When you need those kind of plot devices to lengthen an already too short movie, that’s just bad writing.  I know that they used Kate being the ignored daughter to humanize Derrick, but it just didn’t work.

During the dog days of summer where you have seen all of the blockbusters already and the Oscar contenders are still a couple of months away, The Man might make for a decent matinee viewing.  I wish that it were fall-on-the-floor humorous, but until the new TV season starts, this will do.


Ratings System:


Catch this movie at the theater if you can...

Wait until it comes out on video...

Wait until it plays on HBO, Showtime, Starz, etc...

Demand your money back, even if you saw it for free!

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