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LADIES MAN

SYNOPSIS:
Leon Phelps (Tim Meadows) is The Ladies Man, a radio talk show host dispensing advice on matters of the heart, or more frequently body, to Chicago’s night owls. Leon is rude, crude and stuck in the 1970’s – yet inexplicably attractive to women. When the frankness of his on-air comments upsets one listener too many, Leon and his producer (Karyn Parsons) find themselves looking for another job. The situation appears hopeless, until Leon receives a letter signed Sweet Thing from a former conquest begging him to return to her and her money. All Leon has to do is remember who she is – and find her before a vigilante posse of cuckolded husbands (led by Will Ferrell and Lee Evans) finds him.

Not just ordinarily unfunny, The Ladies Man is ghastly almost beyond belief. If you think lines like "I have a PhD in 'tang" and "I'm like Mother Teresa...of boning" are funny then step right up and watch sex machine Leon Phelps (Tim Meadows) in action. With production values and performance levels equivalent to a bad high-school production, this marks a new low for Saturday Night Live spin-offs and a depressing time for all but the keenest purveyors of gross-out humour. You can giggle at Leon's 70's wardrobe and outrageous afro hairdo for a few minutes; after that we're left to contend with rock-bottom double entendres as the miserably unfunny tale of a self-appointed superstud unfolds. How Leon became a lothario with such an effeminate lisp is anyone's guess and how talented performers Billy Dee Williams, Lee Evans and Julianne Moore wound up in this car crash is an even bigger mystery. Evans was the funniest man alive in Funny Bones; here he's simply embarrassing as a wronged husband out for Leon's blood. Moore, currently starring in the execrable Evolution, makes an uncredited cameo appearance (in a clown's outfit, no less) and now has the distinction of appearing in two of the worst films of this or any other year. There's nothing funny here and plenty that's sickening, including an eating contest at the scungy bar run by Billy Dee Williams. It culminates with a punchline that might have audiences rushing for the bathroom and stopping at the box office to demand their money back. For me the moment that best summed up The Ladies Man arrives when Greco-Roman wrestling fanatic and leader of the cuckolded husband's posse, Lance, (Will Ferrell) says "you will learn a new definition of pain". The only thing wrong is his eyeline. He's looking at Leon when he speaks when really he should be addressing us, the audience.
Richard Kuipers

It has almost become a truism that movies of Saturday Night Live sketches don’t work. So it is a nice surprise when The Ladies Man begins so well, with an opening scene that introduces the shock jock with the one-track mind in a cloud of incense and Courvoisier fumes. Leon Phelps (Meadows), headphones flattening his immaculate afro, dispenses his Dr. Love prescriptions to the strains of Al Green, while irate callers jam the lines with complaints. Phelps has been informing his listeners that Chlamydia is a tasty seafood soup. It’s an amusing skit, but therein lies the curse of Saturday Night Live. The Ladies Man is a series of sketches daisy-chained into plot and the laughs soon dry up. Meadows displays plenty of charisma as the lisping Leon, but the jokes are as clichéd as the ’70s Love Machine character he plays. The humour starts out infantile and lurches down market from there. After a scant 84 minutes, the film limps to an end -- a point seemingly chosen because Meadows and his co-writers ran out of sketches. Not ideas, they ran out of those far earlier, when in desperation the script has Will Ferrell’s repressed homosexual wrestler lead an impromptu song and dance routine. Lord only knows what atrocities were left on the cutting room floor. It’s a shame to see Lee Evans slumming it. It’s a small step down from There’s Something About Mary, but a giant leap away from the talent he displayed in Funny Bones and his early stand-up routines. With the right material Evans inventiveness borders on comic genius. Here he simply looks embarrassed as the anally-obsessed movie runs through its repertoire of puerile butt jokes. Ladies everywhere will be less than charmed.
Stuart Whitmore

A lisp, a shameless attitude and a fashion sense stuck in the seventies. Instant Ladies Man. Who would have thought it was so simple? OK, so this self-styled Casanova does have a couple of other things going for him: a “wang” that by all accounts is several times larger than his IQ, and a gargantuan afro atop his empty noggin. Tim Meadows’ Leon Phelps, aka The Ladies Man, is to Shaft what a stock Dudley Moore character is to James Bond, and it’s pretty hard to believe that this poseur could score a tennis match let alone a cavalcade of carnal conquests. But Meadows tiptoes a narrow path between satyr and simpleton with such charming vitality that I can almost imagine why the character works as a Saturday Night Live skit. Unfortunately, the screenplay is as impotent as its hero is virile, and the concept translates to a feature film about as well as Molly Shannon’s Mary Katherine Gallagher did in Superstar. Abysmally. In fact, the only fun I got from this limp lump of lasciviousness was being introduced to the Ladies Man via his on-air badinage. He tells Chicago to “do it in da butt”, whilst he is obviously blowing hard out of that very region. No wonder they call it the Windy City. But the atmosphere is thin with laughs. An angry mob of cuckolds eager to unburden the Ladies Man of his primary assets, and a scene involving the scoffing of bottled victuals that would make the Bush Tucker Man squeamish—pigs feet and pickled eggs for starters—scrapes the bottom of the jolly jar and comes up empty. No blame, however, should be levied against the acting talent. Phelps hams it up nicely, and the other roles are so vapid they might just as well have cast the pickled eggs.
Brad Green



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 3
Mixed: 0

LADIES MAN, THE (MA)
(US)

CAST: Tim Meadows, Karyn Parsons, Billy Dee Williams, John Witherspoon

DIRECTOR: Reginald Hudlin

PRODUCER: Lorne Michaels

SCRIPT: Andrew Steele, Dennis McNicholas, Tim Meadows

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Johnny E. Jensen

EDITOR: Earl Watson

MUSIC: George Clinton (song), Marcus Miller

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Franco De Cotiis

RUNNING TIME: 84 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 2, 2001

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount Home Video

VIDEO RELEASE: February 15, 2002







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