by Amy Diaz
Eugene Levy and Samuel
L. Jackson take a vacation from being good at their profession to pick
their way through the buddy-cop-movie clichés and tired
white-guy-meets-black-guy jokes of The Man.
After seeing The Man I
was struck with the urge to do something for Jackson and Levy — a card,
a box of cookies, perhaps a little money. Watching The Man gave me the
same sense of embarrassment as walking in on someone while they are on
the toilet or being with an acquaintance when their pet dies or they are
arrested for embezzling. There’s embarrassment, there’s a sense that
nothing you say will really accurately reflect the situation, there’s an
urgent desire for a hasty retreat.
All of these feeling
held true for me throughout The Man — especially the desire for retreat.
The movie, though only about an hour and a half, did seem to go on
forever though showed us nothing new — like a four-hour car ride from
your garage to the end of your driveway.
You will perhaps want
to avert you eyes when you first see Agent Derrick Vann (Jackson), the
federal agent whose partner is killed in Detroit at the beginning of the
movie. Your partner was dirty so you’re dirty, an internal affairs agent
yells at Vann with all the conviction of a man yelling lines off a cue
card. Vann must then get a lawyer and let him settle it like an adult.
Ha! No, of course he must set off to solve the mystery of his partner’s
murder and prove that he’s not involved. The scheme involves a meeting
with a gunrunner in a coffee shop. Vann is late so the gun deal thinks
his business is with a dental supply salesman named Andy Fiddler (Levy),
all middle American and full of farm-country goodness alone in the
dangerous city for the first time. The spazzy, good-natured Fiddler
doesn’t quite know what to do with himself in this cops-and-robbers
world so he does the wrong thing, over and over again until Vann is able
to convince him to act as a pawn in the bust of the gun dealer. And then
he stutters and reacts with a near-mentally-deficient-level of
earnestness through some more unlikely scenarios.
The Man takes every bit
of natural style and bad-ass-ness from Jackson and every bit of genuine
humor from Levy and leaves them naked and scared with nothing to cover
themselves with but fart jokes and limp bit of action. Stare at your
feet, try to change the conversation, comment about the weather — yes,
even while watching this movie the less said and noticed about it the