×

The Man

The Man" trades solely on the audience's good feelings for the contrasting comic profiles of Samuel L. Jackson and Eugene Levy. With Jackson as a ruthless, no-BS ATF agent and Levy as an unsuspecting dental supply salesman caught up in a criminal plot, casting -- and the inevitable shtick it brings -- is the most important element of this functional if thoroughly uninspired movie.

With:
Derrick Vann - Samuel L. Jackson Andy Fiddler - Eugene Levy Joey/Kane - Luke Goss Agent Peters - Miguel Ferrer Lt. Rita Carbone - Susie Essman Booty - Anthony Mackie Diaz - Horatio Sanz Dara Vann - Rachael Crawford Kate Vann - Tomorrow Baldwin Montgomery

The Man” trades solely on the audience’s good feelings for the contrasting comic profiles of Samuel L. Jackson and Eugene Levy. With Jackson as a ruthless, no-BS ATF agent and Levy as an unsuspecting dental supply salesman caught up in a criminal plot, casting — and the inevitable shtick it brings — is the most important element of this functional if thoroughly uninspired movie. Because it clings to the comedy-action template of “48 Hrs.,” pic feels like it could have been made 15 years ago. This not-quite-fall release will arrest a good number of eyeballs in its opening weekend, before a rapid transfer to vid precincts.

Thrilled that he’s set to deliver a speech at a dental supply convention in Detroit, Andy Fiddler (Levy) ventures from his Wisconsin home to the Motor City. Agent Derrick Vann (Jackson) is in a far more sour state, as his partner has been executed in the wake of a theft of arms from the Dept. of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms’ Detroit headquarters.

Internal affairs agent Peters (Miguel Ferrer) presumes Derrick is as dirty as his partner, who was in on the heist. A tough, glowering cop with funky street cred, Derrick scorns Peters while using his vintage, souped-up Cadillac as a weapon to force street punk Booty (Anthony Mackie) to spill info on the crooks.

Andy and Derrick finally come together through an unlikely mix-up involving an edition of USA Today and a lunch bag containing a gun that’s delivered by a tanned, clean-shaven Brit named Joey (Luke Goss). Thinking he’s nabbed a key player in the stolen-arms deal, Derrick holds Andy under arrest, quickly realizing this well-mannered but motor-mouthed fellow is both more and less than he bargained for.

With Jackson and Levy side by side in a car for long stretches of time, director Les Mayfield (“Blue Streak,” “Encino Man”) needs only to cut back and forth between thesps’ faces as they spar, retort, opine, scream and insult each other. Given the absurd gap between the black cop who flirts with danger and cusses a blue streak and the white Jewish Midwesterner who’s more of an out-of-towner than Jack Lemmon, “The Man” is most surprising in that it rarely plays the race card. Instead, pic relies purely on Levy’s and Jackson’s performing instruments; as Mayfield shoots things, it amounts to a battle of arching eyebrows.

Everything else here is at the periphery, including an exceedingly pallid plot symbolized by Goss playing yet another of Hollywood’s slickster European baddies, surely the most tired and overdone of stock characters. Joey is actually the heist’s mastermind, whom Derrick dupes into thinking Andy is a big-time arms trader.

Not an iota of it makes sense–including a thin side plot involving Derrick’s ex-wife and young daughter — but the Jackson-Levy show is all that counts, even when screenwriters Jim Piddock, Margaret Oberman and Steve Carpenter can come up with nothing more for the pair than extended fart jokes.

If acting is reacting, then Jackson and Levy do an awful lot of acting. And if Jackson used to be the one who could be relied on to steal scenes, then Levy has taken that job over with deadpan assuredness.

Despite a noticeable use of Toronto street locales for Detroit, Adam Kane’s lensing, Carol Spier’s production design and general staging opt for a fairly convincing look and feel. The 79-minute playing time is indicative of the film’s slim content.

The Man

Production: A New Line Cinema release of a Fried Films production in association with Meradin Prods. Produced by Rob Fried. Executive producers, Toby Emmerich, Kent Alterman, Matthew Hart. Co-producer, Bill Straus. Directed by Les Mayfield. Screenplay, Jim Piddock, Margaret Oberman, Steve Carpenter; story, Piddock, Oberman.

Crew: Camera (Deluxe color and prints), Adam Kane; editor, Jeffrey Wolf; music, John Murphy; music supervisor, Dana Sano; production designer, Carol Spier; art director, James McAteer; set decorator, Peter Nicolakakos; costume designer, Delphine White; sound (Dolby Digital/SDDS/DTS), Bruce Carwardine; supervising sound editors, Victor Ray Ennis, Mark P. Stoeckinger; visual effects supervisors, Raymond Gieringer, Mark Dornfeld; visual effects, Intelligent Creatures, Custom Film Effects; stunt coordinator, John Stoneham Jr.; assistant director, J.J. Authors; second unit director, Stoneham; second unit camera, David Moxness, Chris Tammaro; casting, Amanda Mackey Johnson, Cathy Sandrich Gelfond. Reviewed at Pacific Grove Theater, Los Angeles, Aug. 31, 2005. MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 83 MIN.

With: Derrick Vann - Samuel L. Jackson Andy Fiddler - Eugene Levy Joey/Kane - Luke Goss Agent Peters - Miguel Ferrer Lt. Rita Carbone - Susie Essman Booty - Anthony Mackie Diaz - Horatio Sanz Dara Vann - Rachael Crawford Kate Vann - Tomorrow Baldwin Montgomery

More Film

  • Toronto Film Festival Lineup

    Toronto Film Festival: 'Joker,' 'Ford v Ferrari,' 'Hustlers' Among Big Premieres

    This year’s Toronto Film Festival will feature super-villain origin stories, splashy literary adaptations, and Tom Hanks as the most beloved performer in children’s television. The Canadian celebration of all things movies unveiled its 2019 lineup on Tuesday, and it appears to be an eclectic mixture of glossy awards bait, auteur-driven indies, and populist crowd-pleasers. It’s [...]

  • Sylvester Stallone Variety Cover story

    Sylvester Stallone Feels Robbed of an Ownership Stake in 'Rocky': 'I Was Furious'

    Sylvester Stallone shares an uncanny, symbiotic connection with Rocky, the underdog boxer character he created four decades ago — a kindred spirit who served as his creative muse in spawning one of Hollywood’s most successful film franchises. In his long career Stallone also played another memorable screen role — John Rambo — but Rocky was [...]

  • Beware of Children

    First Trailer Released for Venice Days Entry 'Beware of Children' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Variety has been given exclusive access to the first trailer for Dag Johan Haugeruds’ politically and socially charged drama “Beware of Children,” which premieres as part of the Venice Film Festival’s Venice Days section. The pic, which is being sold at Venice by Picture Tree Intl., features the dramatic aftermath of a tragic incident in [...]

  • The Tower animated film about Palestinians

    ‘The Tower’ Animation Wins Japan's Skip City Festival

    “The Tower,” Mats Grorud’s animation about the plight of the Palestinians, as viewed through the eyes of an 11-year-old girl in Beirut, won the grand prize in the international competition at the 16th edition of Skip City International D-Cinema Festival. The film also scooped the section’s audience award. The Skip City festival, which launched in [...]

  • For web story

    Transgender Immigrant Pic 'Lingua Franca,' Thriller 'Only Beasts' to Bow at Venice Days

    New York-based Filipina filmmaker Isabel Sandoval’s “Lingua Franca,” about a transgender immigrant, is among 11 competition entries, all world premieres, that will launch from the Venice Film Festival’s independently run Venice Days section. The only U.S. entry set to compete in the section modeled on Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight, “Lingua Franca” is Sandoval’s third work. It [...]

  • Female-Led and LGBTQ Narratives Win Big

    Female-Led and LGBTQ Narratives Win Big At Durban FilmMart Awards

    DURBAN–Female-driven narratives and daring portraits of queer culture around the continent were the big winners at this year’s Durban FilmMart (DFM), the industry program of the Durban Intl. Film Festival, which handed out awards at a ceremony Monday night at the Southern Sun Maharani Hotel. Among the prize-winners were the story of a Zimbabwean woman [...]

  • Oscar Nominations Reactions Phyllis Nagy

    Screenwriter Phyllis Nagy Runs for Writers Guild Presidency, Citing Agency Stalemate

    Oscar-nominated screenwriter Phyllis Nagy is challenging Writers Guild of America West’s incumbent president David Goodman, citing his handling of the bitter stalemate between the WGA and Hollywood agents. Nagy announced her candidacy online Monday night, a day before the deadline for filing. She made the announcement  in a private online group as part of Writers for [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content