The Man

The Man

***1/2

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

There is nothing wrong with Tried and True. You feel safe with them.

Tried says, "I may have limitations, but my boundaries are secure."

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True says, "Call me old-fashioned."

A man finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time (but doesn't know it). He is an antihero, the opposite of cool. He's played by a comedian. In the old days, it would have been Danny Kaye. Now, it's Billy Crystal.

A well-dressed gangster, thinking the man is The Contact, because he's in the designated place (corner of Blahblah and Whatsitsname), carrying the prearranged object (a copy of USA Today), delivers The Package. The man gives it back. "I think this is yours," he says. The gangster returns it and glares at the man. The gangster leaves. The man opens The Package. Inside are a mobile phone and a gun.

Watching from a distance is the cop. He has set this up. He was going to be The Contact, but couldn't find a copy of USA Today. Now, he has to deal with the man, who has become essential to the operation, because the gangster thinks he's The Contact.

Thus, after an elaborate series of disconnected scenes, the antihero and the hero come together. It is important that their personalities spark off each other. One is Chalk and the other is Cheese.

Chalk says, "Shut the f*** up and get in that car."

Cheese says, "Why do you have to swear all the time? I have a good tip to cure that. Let me..."

Chalk says, "NOW!!"

Everything about The Man is formulaic.

Tried says, "Nothing wrong with that."

True says, "If it's done well, it's done well."

Chalk says, "If I hear another words outta you guys, I'm gonna put a f***ing bullet in your asses."

Cheese says, "Would you like to see my family? I have pictures."

What makes The Man such excellent entertainment is the chemistry.

Someone at the studio said, "I called Billy. He's a no-show. He's committed to Analyze Your Mother."

"With Bobby?"

"No, with Queen Latifah."

"Get Jim's dad."

"Who?"

"American Pie, stoopid!"

And so Eugene Levy is hired to play the dental supply salesman opposite Samuel L Jackson's hard bitten, street struttin' Detroit cop. The combination is genius. Levy surpasses expectation. Jackson takes Lean and Mean and marries them. As for the plot, well, it's hardly new.

The man says, "I'm The Man."

You had better believe it.

Reviewed on: 11 Sep 2005
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An undercover cop and a dental supply salesman become partners against crime.
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Director: Les Mayfield

Writer: Jim Piddock, Margaret Oberman, Steve Carpenter

Starring: Samuel L Jackson, Eugene Levy, Luke Goss, Miguel Ferrer, Susue Essman, Horatio Sanz, Anthony Mackie, Gigi Rice

Year: 2005

Runtime: 83 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US

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