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Only one of them can be ‘The MAN’

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By Johnathan Kroncke

By Johnathan Kroncke

Eugene Levy is the man. Period.

Levy (“American Pie”, “Best in Show”) joins veteran actor Samuel L. Jackson (“Pulp Fiction”, “Coach Carter”) in his latest comedic venture, “The Man.”

Andy Fidler, Levy, is your average middle-American man. He has a nice house, a nice wife, three nice kids and a prestigious job in the exciting field of dental supply sales. Things are going well.

That is, until he is mistaken for an undercover ATF agent by a stranger in a coffee shop. The man offers him a taste in a brown bag and then tells him to wait for further instructions. After finding a stolen gun in the bag and waiving it around like a maniac, he is taken into custody by Derrick Vann, played by Jackson.

Vann, the real ATF agent, forces Fidler to assist in the capture of the gun runners. At first glance, this seems like a simple job. Drop a box here, make a call there and it’s over. However, between Fidler’s incessant talking and Vann’s intolerance of everyone and everything around him, what appeared to be an easy task becomes a complicated sting operation that never seems to end.

While the movie is quite enjoyable, it does have its flaws. The one glaring fault about this movie, and indeed most movies of the last few years, is that it is far too predictable. The standard formula of the awkward pairing that leads to a buddy-cop friendship is old and in desperate need of replacement. The sheer unoriginality of it makes watching those kinds of movies pointless. If you have seen one buddy-cop comedy, you have seen all three million of its clones.

Having said that, there are worse buddy-cop clones than “The Man.” Seasoned veterans of the film game like Jackson and Levy really know how to play their roles to a tee. Jackson is not an especially versatile actor in that most of his roles are similar to each other. However, that is not take away from his natural ability to convey hostility and anger. His character in this movie is really more that of a man on the edge than just another cop. Vann is out for blood and Jackson comes through.

As far as Levy goes, there is not enough you can say about the man’s on-screen skills. He is a brilliant actor who shines brightest when playing geeky, off-beat characters such as Jim’s dad in “American Pie” or the dog-loving Gerry Fleck in “Best in Show.” Levy’s performances are always memorable and this movie was no exception.

While “The Man” may have some issues with the plot being far too predictable and hardly realistic, it is driven almost exclusively by the characters that Jackson and Levy portray and they absolutely deliver. Movies that rely heavily on characters are not necessarily in need of intricate plots and fantastic special effects. “Napoleon Dynamite,” for example, hardly has a plot but builds unforgettable characters to create interest.

“The Man” may not have all of the elements of an Academy Award winner, but its light nature and hilarious interaction between Levy and Jackson make for a fun movie, and that is really all it is meant to do.

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