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The Man

  • compiled by Jeffrey Overstreet Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2005 1 Jan
The Man

from Film Forum, 09/15/05

"Buddy movies" are a dime a dozen, and most of them aren't worth more than the dime. It's rare that two actors successfully share the spotlight and develop characters with distinct personalities and memorable chemistry.

When director Les Mayfield paired up Eugene Levy and Samuel L. Jackson, it must have sounded like a volatile combination. But the reviews make it clear—The Man falls far short of the standards set by DeNiro and Grodin in Midnight Run, Martin and Candy in Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, or even Chan and Tucker in Rush Hour.

Levy stars as Andy Fiddler, a dental-supply salesman mistaken for a federal agent, Derrick Vann, played by Samuel L. Jackson. How could anyone get them confused? Well, if that question makes you laugh, you'll get at least one good laugh out of this movie. But most critics would recommend you wait to see The Man on DVD, if at all.

Harry Forbes (Catholic News Service) writes, "Mayfield's film is fitfully amusing, thanks to the chemistry of the two intentionally mismatched stars, but could be much better. There are positive underlying themes of the importance of friendship, allowing yourself to trust, and putting family first. … Nonetheless, the unrelenting stream of expletives, formulaic construction and mostly uninspired dialogue severely undermine what might otherwise have been a recommendable escapade."

Jamie Maxfield (Plugged In) considers the two central personalities. "Fidler's trusting outlook has turned him into a trustworthy person. And fear of trust makes Vann, well, worth fearing. That's a lesson worth learning. But The Man teaches us another lesson in the process. Namely, that no matter what kind of positivity can be forcibly extracted from any given movie script, lots of swearing, stupid flatulence gags and senseless violence smell up the joint so much you have to ask yourself, who really would want to stick around for such small morsels?"