There’s a universe that divides actor-director-writer Robert Townsend’s debut, Holloywood Shuffle, and The Meteor Man. The seemingly hip, irreverent and street-savvy talent has evolved into a kinder, gentler, rather too polite storyteller who is oddly out of step with the times. This allegorical fantasy is a cute skit expanded out of all proportion for the big screen.
Set in Washington, DC, yarn centers on schoolteacher and aspiring musician Jefferson Reed (Townsend). An advocate of nonviolence and flight in the face of danger, one evening Jeff runs afoul of the peroxided Golden Lords and just barely escapes their clutches. Emerging from his hiding place, he walks into the path of a falling meteor fragment, and when he awakes realizes that he’s gained super powers. He’s enlisted into service to clean up the streets in a uniform lovingly sewn by his mother.
The idea of a street-smark though awkward superhuman crime fighter ought to have been a rich mine from which to excavate laughs. But Townsend seems strangely out of place in this milieu. His characters are stereotypes culled from two decades of television viewing.