Proving that talented actors are nothing without a good script, "The Man" is a mess of a comedy that wastes the gifts of Samuel L. Jackson and Eugene Levy. The pairing had potential to be quite funny, but unfortunately they are stuck with a script that feels like its been on the shelf since the mid-'80's.
Jackson plays Derrick Vann, a special agent who is investigating the murder of his partner. When an meek dental supply salesman named Andy Fidler (Levy) is mistaken for a buyer of stolen guns, the duo becomes an unlikely team.
Most of "The Man" consists of banter between the hard-edged Vann and the unpretentious Fidler. I'll concede that Jackson and Levy do have a sense of chemistry together, but Jim Piddock and Margaret Oberman's script is so inept the actors have little to work with.
I wish that Levy, who has shown a gift for improv in the Christopher Guest films "A Mighty Wind," "Best in Show" and "Waiting for Guffman," and Jackson, who is probably talented enough to be a good improvisational actor as well, had just been given a starting point and allowed to make up the film as they went along. I imagine they could have come up with something funnier than Levy's bodily functions - a joke which "The Man" goes to not once, not twice, but three times.
To its credit "The Man" does clock in at a speedy 83 minutes, but by the time Fidler is asked to do "one more favor" for about the eighth time it is apparent that the movie is just spinning its wheels.
Fortunately, with only a $4 million opening weekend, "The Man 2" isn't likely. While these characters should never be revisited, here's hoping that Levy and Jackson can reunite in a vehicle more suited for their lofty talents.
<>DVD dandy of the week
This week's dandy is "Paris is Burning" (A), a fascinating 1990 documentary that is finally available on DVD.
"Paris" is an in depth look at the drag-queen balls held in Harlem in the late 1980s. The contestants consisted mostly of inner city black and Latino gay men who helped usher in the vogue dance style that Madonna cashed in on in the early '90's.
Director Jennie Livingston interviewed several participants and captured the intense focus and preparation that each of these queens went through to prepare for the drag balls. It also gives insight and background as well as the complexities of their subculture and how it is viewed by America in general.
The most poignant footage comes from a queen named Venus Xtravanganza, who was beaten to death not long after filming was complete.
"Paris is Burning" is unrated, but is definitely not a film for younger children.
- Movie reviewer/ sportswriter Micheal Compton loves the night life and he likes to boogie on the disco - ahh, oh yeah! If you find that image as disturbing as we do, please e-mail Micheal at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell him to take off his dancing shoes, pronto.
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Eugene Levy
Director: Les Mayfield
Rating: PG-13 for language, rude dialogue and some violence
Playing at: The Great Escape 12