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Laramie Movie Scope: The Man

Detective teams with bumbling civilian

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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March 19, 2016 -- I was running an evaluation of a bunch of videos found by a friend of mine, and I decided to give this one a try, despite the bad reviews. Going in with low expectations, it was better than I thought it would be, so I'll give it a pass. I also tried watching “Semi-Pro,” but that was so bad I had to turn it off after a few minutes. I couldn't stand it.

“The Man” is a comedy along the lines of of “48 Hours” and “Midnight Run,” and any number of other mismatched cop buddy comedies. In this one the pairing is Samuel L. Jackson as the cop (DEA agent) and Eugene Levy as the naive motormouth salesman who accidentally gets in the middle of a gun running sting operation.

While the basic plot is complicated, with a crooked DEA agent, a mistaken internal affairs investigation and some misdirection by one of the bad guys, this movie is about the relationship between Jackson (playing DEA agent Derrick Vann) and Levy, playing dental supply salesman Andy Fiddler. Vann, who is divorced, doesn't have time to be with his ex-wife and daughter, while Fiddler is a devoted family man.

There is a nice scene where Fiddler manages to get Vann to attend his daughter's dance recital. It appears that Vann realizes that his priorities in life have been wrong, and that he should be spending more time with his daughter. Vann is a quick-tempered man with a lot of street smarts, and he is good at his job, but Fiddler is the guy who is better at dealing with his emotions and better with family relationships. Vann doesn't trust anyone, while Fiddler believes in giving everyone a chance to prove themselves trustworthy.

While Fiddler is a bumbler when it comes to dealing with the gun runners, he is not stupid, and actually makes a few good decisions. Vann is clever dealing with criminals, but he has some emotional shortcomings. They certainly are an interesting pair, and in this genre of story, that is what really counts.

There are some genuinely funny bits in the film, and some attempts at humor that don't work (like the “joke” of pinning a crook to a chain link fence with a car). I laughed more than I expected and found Levy's character interesting. Anthony Mackie has a small role in the film as a small-time crook and informant with the unfortunate name of Booty. Mackie is one of few black actors (along with Jackson) who have been fixtures in recent superhero franchise movies. Nowadays Mackie is best known for his role as Falcon in recent Captain America and Avengers movies.

Another noted actor in the film, in a fairly thankless role, is Miguel Ferrer (“Iron Man 3”) who is currently a regular on “NCIS Los Angeles.” He plays an internal affairs investigator who is barking up the wrong tree. One of his best roles as a private detective is in the obscure detective film spoof, “Where's Marlowe?” Anyway, for the reasons listed above, I'm giving this comedy a pass. It rates a C+.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2016 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)