Thursday 4 April 2019

Movie Review: The Man (2005)

A buddy comedy about incompatible men forced to cooperate in pursuit of criminals, The Man offers a few laughs but is otherwise familiar and slight.

Meek dental supplies salesperson Andy Fiddler (Eugene Levy) travels to Detroit to attend a convention. His arrival coincides with a daring federal armoury heist that releases hundreds of dangerous weapons into the hands of criminals. Internal affairs investigators including agent Peters (Miguel Ferrer) suspect streetwise agent Derrick Vann (Samuel L. Jackson) of involvement, because his partner was identified as the key inside man and showed up dead.

Eager to clear his name Vann shakes down informer Booty (Anthony Mackie) for information and arranges an undercover buy-back of the weapons. The clueless Andy inadvertently botches Vann's plan: he shows up at the wrong time in the wrong place and is mistaken by ruthless gang boss Joey (Luke Goss) of being an international weapons trader. Vann is forced to seize Andy and use him to try and apprehend the bad guys. The two polar-opposite men continuously frustrate each other but eventually realize they have to cooperate.

Running a grand total of 83 minutes, The Man trots out a tired concept and not much else. There is a bit of fun to be had in placing a timid but talkative salesperson in a car with an angry and ruthless cop, but director Les Mayfield brings nothing else to the screen. Most of the movie is set within the confines of Vann's admittedly impressive and imposing black 1983 Cadillac Coupe DeVille, as Andy and Vann exchange barbs and take turns making each other angry. Plot, logic and depth are forgotten on the curb.

The faults reside within a flimsy script, a collaboration between Jim Piddock, Margaret Oberman, and Stephen Carpenter that reduces the bad guys to hissing cardboard cutouts, somehow capable of planning and executing a major heist but then foolishly botching every subsequent criminal step. Vann does receive a family including an ex-wife and young daughter to care about should he choose to, but his journey towards finding some empathy thanks to Andy's influence is nauseatingly linear.

The action scenes are spotty and forgettable, while a running gag featuring Vann inflicting pain on Booty's booty fits right in with the over-dependence on juvenile body function jokes.

Eugene Levy and Samuel L. Jackson stay firmly within the bounds of their most basic personas, although their talent just about elevates The Man to tolerable in patches. That, and the car.

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