"The Man" is akin to director Les Mayfield, the genius who brought us "Flubber," letting loose an 83-minute-long fart into the faces of movie audiences everywhere.
Andy Fidler (Eugene Levy) is a regular guy with a regular job. He goes to work every day. He loves his family. So in Hollywood's eyes, he's a schlub. While this particular schlub is visiting Detroit for a conference, he picks up a newspaper at the wrong place at the wrong time and is drawn into a gun-trafficking investigation pursued by hard-edged ATF agent Derrick Vann (Samuel L. Jackson).
Vann is - stop me if you've heard this one before - a rogue cop who plays by his own rules. At one point, his superior actually demands his gun and his badge while Vann protests that he's "this close" to getting the bad guys. However, Vann is such a rogue cop that he's actually pretty scary: He runs down street punks for sport, beats informants with a phone book and robs random citizens of their cars at gunpoint. He swears more than Dick Cheney on the floor of the Senate and his conversations with the trembling Andy inevitably end with some variation of the phrase "shut yo ass up!"
As a result, what at first feels like a remake of "Midnight Run" quickly devolves into a remake of "Midnight Express," American-style. Vann basically kidnaps the innocent Andy and forces him into several life threatening situations in the course of the investigation. Andy is so terrified that he tries to escape repeatedly. During one such escape attempt, Vann actually shoots him (albeit with a "training bullet," whatever that is). At another point, Vann threatens to throw Andy into a cell where he'll be violently raped by criminals if he doesn't comply. Did I mention this is a comedy? Ha ha.
The evil guys, like all gun runners, drive around in a black BMW, but are so laughably non-threatening I had a sneaking suspicion that some of the secondary bad guys were the director's old frat buddies or possibly won the role in some sort of radio station promotion. Note to Hollywood: Throwing a leather jacket on a stocky white guy does not make him look like a menacing gun-trafficker. It makes him look like a stocky white guy who happened to be the fifth caller.
It says something about this movie that its high point consists of fart humor. This seems strangely appropriate, given that "The Man" is akin to director Les Mayfield, the genius who brought us "Flubber," letting loose an 83-minute-long fart into the faces of movie audiences everywhere.
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