In Detroit for a dental equipment sales convention, meek out-of-towner Andy Fiddler (Eugene Levy) accidentally picks up a package left in a café for Derrick Vann (Samuel L. Jackson) an undercover cop who plays by his own rules. Soon Andy is the object of suspicion both for the criminals Vann is pursuing and for Vann's superiors, as he's led through a series of situations where he is forced to impersonate the all-powerful "Man".
Review by Jake Wilson:
I have no idea what the producers were thinking: where is the potential audience for this low-budget retrograde comedy thriller, with 70s-style disco on the soundtrack and digital transitions between scenes as a nod to the present day? Once you've cast Eugene Levy in a lead role, action thrills are clearly off the agenda, so The Man is closer to the US equivalent to a French cop farce starring, say, Jean Reno (or maybe what Tony Martin tried locally in Bad Eggs). Many scenes consist of little more than Levy and Samuel L. Jackson bickering in their car; the well-chosen Canadian locations (standing in for Detroit) add a touch of realistic seediness, and the plot elements click neatly into place once the improbabilities are accepted.
But nothing about the film seizes the mind: there is less visual flair than in a Law and Order episode, and the script has almost no content beyond predictable family values messages and nervous homoerotic signalling (characters getting shot in the buttocks and so forth). If the fart jokes had been cut out, if the ultimate identity of the "Man" were less of an anticlimax, if Levy, an ideal pompous fidgety sissy when he wants to be, had been given a real character whose shifts between smug propriety and helplessness had some context, if Jackson showed the slightest rapport with his co-star rather than playing the surly straight man throughout... No, it's no good; The Man is a dud. Move along people, nothing to see here.
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MAN, THE (M)
CAST: Samuel L. Jackson, Eugene Levy, Luke Goss, Miguel Ferrer, Susie Essman, Anthony Mackie, Gigi Rice, Rachael Crawford, Philip Akin, Joel S. Keller
PRODUCER: Robert N. Fried
DIRECTOR: Les Mayfield
SCRIPT: Jim Piddock, Margaret Oberman, Stephen Carpenter
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Adam Kane
EDITOR: Jeffrey Wolf
MUSIC: John Murphy
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Carol Spier
RUNNING TIME: 83 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 20, 2005
RIVERSIDE SCREEN PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 6 consecutive Tuesdays, starts February 17, 2015 at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.