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September 2005
The Man

By Wilson Morales
The Man

Distributor: New Line Cinema
Director: Les Mayfield
Producer: Robert M. Fried
Screenwriters: Margaret Oberman, Jim Piddock, Stephen W. Carpenter
Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Eugene Levy, Luke Goss, Susie Essman and Anthony Mackie
Screened at: Loews Kips Bay, NYC


Just because he's considered one of the hardest working people in the business doesn't mean that all his works are worth seeing. After seeing him in about four films this year (Coach Carter, In My Country, XXX: State of the Union, and Star Wars 3: Revenge of the Sith), Samuel L. Jackson was bound to stumble with his next film, The Man. With no originality to the screenplay, Jackson teams up with veteran comedian-actor Eugene Levy in this cat and mouse caper where in this case, Levy is the cheese. In most films, these two actors normally play supporting roles where they shine as Jackson did with XXX: SOTU and Pulp Fiction and Levy with the "American Pie" films, but when they are the leads of a film that's already clichéd, there's nothing to look forward to. "The Man" is another black and white buddy movie where the jokes are flat and the talent is wasted.

Jackson plays Derrick Vann, an undercover Special Agent who's following a lead on the murder of his partner when Andy Fidler (Levy) gets in his way. Fidler is a dental supplies salesman from Detroit who came to town to make a speech at a weekend convention. When Fidler is mistaken for Vann, Vann has no choice but use a reluctant Fidler in his quest to catch the European bad guys in their attempts at buying stolen weapons. In the middle of all this, Fidler encourages Vann to spend more time off duty and go to his daughter's ballet recital.

There isn't much more to say about this lame film other none of the jokes were humorous. Jackson and Levy have no chemistry as opposed to Murphy and Nolte (48 Hours), or even Gibson and Glover (Lethal Weapon). Just about every black and white buddy film has the inevitable race joke and when the "bitch" scene comes up, it's actually funny, but that only because Jackson has played so many tough roles in his career, that you can't imagine him being called the word. Jackson is making a mockery of himself. Anthony Mackie, a promising young actor, has a small role that's wasted. The actors who played the bad guys weren't given enough to do to even make a presence in this film. Granted, the film is a chance for Jackson to display some comedic chops, but at least try to make it intriguing while entertaining. When making a buddy "dramedy" film, one needs to add some sort fresh ideas as opposed to the predictable ones we see in "The Man".