Case Number 08629: Small Claims Court


New Line // 2005 // 83 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // February 17th, 2006

The Charge

One guy walks the walk.
The other guy talks and talks.

The Case

Nerdy Andy Fiddler (Eugene Levy, Waiting for Guffman) is a dental supply salesman traveling through Detroit to make a speech at a local convention. Dour, cynical Agent Derrick Vann (Samuel L. Jackson, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith) works for the Detroit Police Department and finds himself in a jam when his partner is killed over an arms theft in the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms department...and an Internal Affairs agent (Miguel Ferrer) thinks Derrick is in on the take. After a series of unlikely set ups (involving a diner, a paper sack, and a gun), angry Derrick and the neurotic Fiddler are thrown together as reluctant partners in an effort to figure out who is behind the inside criminal activity and clear Derrick's name...if they don't kill each other in the process!

Okay, it's time for Hollywood and mainstream America to sit down and have a civil little tête-à-tête. Each side should grab a cup of coffee and settle in for a long discussion about how mismatched buddy movies -- usually involving cops, civilians or crooks -- have long passed their expiration date. Not only that, but, they expired nearly two decades ago when 48 Hours and Lethal Weapon bowed in theaters. Yet somehow, someway, producers think that we're yearning for a comedy action flick about two bickering opposites who hate each other (and then, in a HUGE twist ending, really admire/like/care for each other).

Maybe -- just maybe -- The Man wouldn't have seemed so bad had it not been released in the same year as The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Wedding Crashers, two rowdy, superior movies with strong characters and uniquely humorous situations. Combined those two films were imperfect but very amusing offerings. The Man doesn't even come close to their comedic aspirations. In fact, The Man wheezes along like the fat guy at a 5K who never looks like he's going to come close to winning the race, much less making it to the finish line. The Man is well under 90 minutes, yet it feels like a never-ending exercise in annoying banter between Jackson and Levy, two stars who should know better but don't. If I wanted to watch people snap at each other sans any wit or intelligence, I'd have gone to my last family reunion.

Will it surprise you in the least when I tell you that Jackson and Levy play lesser carbon copies of their normal onscreen personas? Jackson plays a hard-ass cop who thinks he's the tough cookie no matter what assignment he undertakes. Levy plays a nerdy, goofy dental equipment salesman who complains and fusses about everything. Wow, what a novel idea -- a tough-as-nails black guy and a nebbish ridden white man who don't get along! Apparently the makers of The Man found a wormhole into 1986, which is where I presume they found this lackluster, lazily formulated screenplay constructed by no less than THREE writers. A special nod goes to director Les Mayfield, who shows a complete lack of inspiration aside from just being there to pick up his paycheck.

The jokes in The Man are telegraphed, which is to say they're extraordinarily lame. Jackson's character shoots Levy in the buttocks, and to tend to the wound he suggests using tobacco sauce as a sterilizer. This then leads to the obligatory scene where they are pulled over by the cops, Levy is forced to put his hands up outside the car and his pants fall down (natch). Ho-ho. The sad part? This is the funniest joke in the movie, which should tell you everything you need to know about The Man.

For curiosity's sake I read through a few other reviews of The Man. In critic Roger Ebert's review he talks about a discussion with Walk the Line director James Mangold about how Hollywood is reluctant to take risks and often falls back on old formulas. "Better to make a movie," Ebert notes, "where when you hear the pitch you can already envision the TV commercial, because the movie will essentially be the long form of the 30-second spot." I'm sorry to report that The Man isn't even worth 30 seconds of yours or anybody else's time.

The Man is presented in a decent looking 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen picture. Overall the transfer for this film is very good -- colors are well-represented and black levels solid and dark. New Line has certainly done all they can to make sure The Man is a top-notch picture -- it's a shame that they couldn't do that for the story, directions, acting and humor.

The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround as well as DTS Surround. Either of these 5.1 mixes will do the trick, though considering The Man is more or less a dialogue driven comedy (I mean that in the loosest sense of the word) with a few action sequences throughout, I don't think you'll really care one way or the other which track you use -- you'll only care that it ends quickly.

The extra features on this disc are thankfully minimal, including five deleted/alternate scenes from the film, trailers, and four very short featurettes ("Sam Jackson's Guide to Cursing like a BadA&% MothaF$#@*&," "Who's The Man," "Making an Action Scene," and "The Ride: A Look at the '83 Cadillac") that give a very superficial insight into the film, the characters and one of the action scenes from the final film.

Review content copyright © 2006 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2016 HipClick Designs LLC

Scales of Justice
Judgment: 55

Perp Profile
Studio: New Line
Video Formats:
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic

Audio Formats:
* DTS 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)

* English
* Spanish

Running Time: 83 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13

Distinguishing Marks
* Five Deleted / Alternate Scenes
* Trailers
* "Sam Jackson's Guide to Cursing like a BadA&% MothaF$#@*&" Featurette
* "Who's The Man," "Making an Action Scene" Featurettes
* "The Ride: A Look at the '83 Cadillac" Featurette

* IMDb

* Official Site