Saturday Night Live will never run out of cast members to be in movies. Nor will it ever run out of characters to make into movies. Some of the most popular stars on the show have gone on to make some great films (Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, David Spade). Some went on to basically nothing (Robin Duke, Charles Rocket). Tim Meadows is the in-between guy. Though he was on SNL for many seasons, he never acquired the same star-status as David Spade or Will Ferrell. In 2000, Meadows finally got a big screen break with his suave talking character, Leon Phelps. Paramount releases The Ladies Man on DVD for all you lovers out there.
Facts of the Case
Leon Phelps (Meadows). Just the name brings a chill down the spine of hootchie mamas everywhere. Leon is the suave player who hosts "The Ladies Man," a radio show out of Chicago (where he warns listeners that he is not a psychologist, but he has "done it" with a lot of women). Phelps has a casual friendship with his producer Julie Simmons (Karyn Parsons of Fresh Price Of Bel-Air fame), and gets funky with every hot mama that passes next to him.
Leon's troubles being when he is cancelled from his radio show by an angry manager (Eugene Levy) who has received one too many calls about Leon's offensive opinions. Leon and Julie are forced to find work where they can, including a Christian Broadcasting station. Leon also has other problems on his horizon, as a group of angry boyfriends and husbands (including Will Ferrell and Lee Evans) are on the hunt for Phelps, as he's shagged all their women. The only sign they have to go by: a smiley faced tattoo on Leon's butt (which makes them part of the VSA, or "Victims of the Smiling Ass").
Though things are down, Leon's got a plan. He receives a letter in the mail from one of his "Sweet Things" with promises of riches and a lifetime of happiness. Leon's troubles are solved…if he can only figure out who his mystery letter is from. The sooner the better, as his home consists of a docked boat that is decorated with shag carpeting and sensual oils.
It's up to Leon to figure out who his "Sweet Thing" is, where to find his true love, and how to get it…"up the butt."
There have definitely been better Saturday Night Live movies made. The Ladies Man tumbles fairly far down on the list of even decent SNL movies. You'd think that the writers (as well as SNL producer Lorne Michaels, who gets his fair blame) would be able to spot if a character is too one-dimensional to make the transition to a full-length feature. Leon Phelps was a funny character in his small, ten-minute sketch world. Take him out of it, and you've got yourself one long movie.
Even with that scathing paragraph, The Ladies Man does have a few good things going for it. Meadows is a very likable actor, and he certainly deserves better than this. I really wanted to like the Leon Phelps character unconditionally. Meadows brings a funny warmth to the character that is often missing in SNL characters once on screen. Phelps is so eager to please the ladies that he never sees how desperate he is. This is one quality that makes his character lively and funny. It also ends up being his downfall, for this is the ONLY quality Leon possesses.
The script is punctuated with mostly sexual humor, relying on using catch phrases like "up the butt" over and over again, assuming the audience will find this funny. The first two times it is, but after that it gets very stale. If the writers want some advice, I have just one word: moderation.
Some of the funniest moments in the film come from former and current Saturday Night Live cast members. Will Ferrell is very funny as a wrestler who wants Leon's you-know-what on a platter. Chris Parnell is a hoot as a soft rock/jazz radio manager, reciting his lines with the same smooth sound you hear on any station that's name begins with the word "light."
And who can forget Eugene Levy? Ever since American Pie, Levy has seemingly popped up in every other movie, from Christopher Guest's Best In Show to the debacle Josie and the Pussycats. Levy is a funny guy. I say we pass around a petition making sure that he keeps working day in, day out, in every comedy Hollywood churns out.
Finally, there's Billy Dee Williams…'Nuff said.
The Ladies Man is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Since this is a new release, the picture is, not surprisingly, very good. Edge enhancement was not existent, and colors were sharp with blacks being solid. Grain and dirt were not present, and the transfer had a sharp, crisp look to it. Overall a good job by Paramount.
Audio is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 (as well as 2.0 English and French mixes). The sound is nothing striking, with the surround feature used very little. The music is when it mostly comes in, and that's not all the exciting. Though it's only passable, it's works fine for the film it's paired with. Dialogue is clear and free of distortion. Also included are English subtitles.
Extra features include a full frame theatrical trailer, as well as some cast and crew interviews. The cast and crew interviews play more like a "Making-Of" featurette, as they include not only interviews but also behind the scenes footage as well. The feature runs about eleven minutes, and in an ironic twist, the director sports a full set of metallic braces during his interview.
Ladies man, indeed.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
The Ladies Man would have been better if the editor would have cut out about…oh, say one hour of the film. Geez, for a movie that's only 84 minutes long, this sure feels like it runs a lot longer.
Many of the supporting cast members show why they are limited in their roles, showing up in cheesy SNL movies (case in point). Tiffini Thiessen lets her breasts do the acting for her, spending most of the time in a Victoria's Secret outfit that would make a blind man sweat. Karyn Parsons, the snotty girl opposite Will Smith on the show Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, is bland and uninteresting as Leon's love interest. Though to her defense, this is not a very well written role. Come to think of it, most of the roles in this movie aren't very well written. In fact, the film itself…well, you get the point.
The Ladies Man might be worth the rental if you're a fan of the original TV skit. For around $25-30 dollars, this is not worth the purchase until you see the movie first, and even then it's iffy. Time Meadows and the writers gave a valiant attempt at trying to bring the character of Leon Phelps to life on screen, but The Ladies Man ends up a loser. Talk about getting it up the butt. Even so, the transfer is good and the audio well mixed, so you can break out the Merlot for that reason alone.
The Ladies Man is found guilty of being too repetitive in its comedic attempts. Paramount is cleared of all charges with a decent enough disc.
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• Theatrical Trailer
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