The Man Reviewby Jerry at the Movies (Faust668 AT msn DOT com)
May 18th, 2007
THE MAN (2005)
Reviewed by Jerry Saravia
RATING: Two stars
I hate starting reviews for potentially winning comedies the same way, so I will make a slight alteration. Samuel L. Jackson as an ATF agent with earrings is chasing some bad guys in Detroit. Fair enough, sounds like a sequel to "Shaft." Eugene Levy is a dental supply salesman who is mistaken for a special ATF agent, hence Jackson's character. Sounds like comedy gold and in the vein of "Midnight Run." Unfortunately, the veins burst and create an arterial spray that results in a bloody, largely unfunny mess.
I'll be somewhat fair - I did laugh for the first twenty minutes of "The Man." Eugene Levy is the perfect foil to the towering presence of the raging Samuel L. Jackson. But something is slightly off with Jackson - as watchable as he is, he seems disengaged and slightly robotic. Take the scene where Jackson is driving and chasing a criminal on foot - Jackson doesn't exude the magnetic anger that typifies Jackson at his best. Plainly, he doesn't go over the top and you know, when Jackson goes over-the-top, he can be downright scary. Still, he has some bravura reaction shots to Levy's own inanities and personal matters.
Quickly, after those promising twenty minutes, "The Man" just becomes a stale, moronic comedy with fewer and fewer laughs, to the point that flatulence becomes yet another faux laugh-getter (When will filmmakers realize that flatulence is not automatically funny?) The villains are also on automatic pilot, as is the wasted Miguel Ferrer as the internal affairs cop (will Ferrer ever get the opportunity to play anything besides a one-dimensional, cartoonish villain?) As another in the long line of tired buddy-buddy action comedies, "The Man" is fitfully mediocre and fails to live up to what Jackson and Levy, with the right director and screenplay, can really do (though Levy does crack me up anyway). Here, they are robotic, stock characters uttering the same old phrases in the same old way. Call it "The Robotic Man."
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