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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Odd Couple -- Again
by Betty Jo Tucker

Selling the idea for The Man must have been easy. “We want to pair Eugene Levy with Samuel L. Jackson in an action comedy,” one pitchman probably said -- and no doubt this concept met with nodding heads all round. While thinking about the suggested movie odd couple, everyone in the room surely realized how funny the two men would look together on screen. And, these usually fine actors do offer an amusing visual as they interact with each other. Unfortunately, that’s not enough to build a film on. There are other things that should have been considered here, such as a -- what’s the word I’m looking for -- oh yes, a script.

Jackson (Coach Carter) and Levy (A Mighty Wind) find themselves pigeonholed in one-note roles as characters who ride around in a car arguing and yelling at each other during most of the movie’s running time. Levy plays Andy Fiddler, a nerdy dental products salesman who’s come to Detroit to give a speech at a convention. Jackson portrays Derrick Vann, a rough-and-tough Federal Agent trying to capture an illegal European arms dealer (Luke Goss from Blade II). Fiddler trusts everyone; Vann trusts no one. Fiddler is a dedicated family man; Vann forgets his little daughter’s ballet recital. Fiddler wears a gray business suit; Vann is clad all in black leather. Fiddler has horn-rimmed glasses; Van sports silver ear studs. Fiddler says “for crying out loud;” Vann shouts the f word. And so on.     

Listening to the dialogue between Vann and Fiddler presents quite a challenge because it’s so repetitive and annoying. Fiddler delivers too many “May I ask a question?” lines. Vann spends most of his time hollering at Fiddler and telling him to stop talking. For a bit of variety, the men deal with Fiddler’s flatulence problem.       

How did Fiddler and Vann get together? Purely by accident. Fiddler is mistaken for Vann because of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, so he’s forced to continue working with the federal agent in order to bring the case to a close. Predictably, each man learns something from the other and becomes a better person.              

Movies featuring odd couples can be very funny indeed.  Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker made me laugh continuously in their Rush Hour movies, as did Chan and Owen Wilson in Shanghai Noon and Shanghai Knights. Steve Martin and John Candy were hilarious in Planes, Trains and Automobiles. So were Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau in The Odd Couple and Eddie Murphy with Nick Nolte in 48 Hours. There are many other examples -- but, sadly, Samuel L. Jackson and Eugene Levy in The Man are not among them. 

(Released by New Line Cinema and rated “PG-13” for language, rude dialogue and some violence.)

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