“The Man”

By Genevieve Diesing

Here’s an idea. Let’s get two great actors who represent entirely different stereotypes, put them together in a car for 80 minutes and call it a movie. Sound good? Of course not. That’s why, even with the blessings of Samuel L. Jackson and Eugene Levy, “The Man” falls flat on its face.

It’s not the actors’ fault the production is a waste of time. They give classic performances. Jackson’s commanding bravado harks back to his “Pulp Fiction” days while Levy epitomizes a white bred, nasal-toned, dental salesman to the most hilarious degree. Together they are complete opposites. A street-smart federal agent who trusts no one and an incredibly sheltered family man who’s never met a person he didn’t eventually become friends with. The problem is, Hollywood got so caught up in the duo’s comedic genius it forgot about putting an actual story behind them.

The plot itself isn’t terrible, just weak. It’s been done in one form or another at least a dozen times before. An undercover cop tries to infiltrate black-market plan, in this case, a mass gun dispersing ring, which gets botched. Innocent victim gets drawn into the plan and chaos ensues. Not exactly original.

We do get a glimpse of character development. Derrick (Jackson) seems like a lonely man isolated because of his lack of faith in anybody, and we briefly see how this affects him in personal relationships. The flatly heroic Andy (Levy) attempts at alleviating Derrick’s problems are slightly heartwarming. This little blip of a subplot is not in vain, but it is basically abandoned three quarters of the way into the film.

Because this action/comedy doesn’t have much to offer in the way of action, it should more than compensate with comedy, right? Well, not exactly.

“The Man” is a perfect example of the misguided Hollywood mentality that big names and a big budget equals greatness. And once again, it could not be more wrong. We’ve been watching Jackson act tough and Levy act nerdy for years. What makes movie makers think that making a film about nothing more than reducing these two to their respective stereotypes is going to be in any way special?