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The Man (2005)

The buddy-cop comedy has long been a staple of the action genre, with Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder popularizing the "salt and pepper" combo of an unhip white protagonist and a street smart black character, and Eddie Murphy taking it to the next level. If 2005's The Man brings anything to the genre (it likely doesn't), it could be said that here Samuel L. Jackson is playing the authority figure while Eugene Levy plays the outsider. Alas, the racial and political ramifications are limited to the extremities as Levy plays Andy Fiddler, a dentist sucked into the criminal underworld as the whitest, squarest gentlemen ever. His guide through the crime-filled streets of Detroit is ATF agent Derrick Vann (Jackson), whose corrupt partner was murdered during a gun sale. After Andy is mistaken as a gun buyer, he gets partnered with Derrick, but as is the case with all movies like this, it turns out both parties teach the other some important life lessons. If The Man had cojones instead of being a pitch-meeting turned cinematic pile of excrement, it might actually deal with race issues (as Silver Streak and 48 Hrs. did) and make its subject matter plain — these scripts work best when mocking the racial divide that their very premises are based on. Instead, the movie is bloodless and simplistic to the point of mental deficiency, stooping so low as to have farting sequences twice. Of course, The Man takes whatever mileage it can from the star power of Eugene Levy, who's enjoyed a great middle-age career resurgence due to his work in the Christopher Guest mockumentaries, and Samuel L. Jackson, who's been coasting on the cool of his work with Quentin Tarantino for nearly a decade to little returns. Between Jackson's fast burn and Levy's deadpan, one might be able to distill two minutes of amusement for a trailer, but whatever entertainment might be had from Levy calling Jackson his "bitch" is not worth the effort. In fact, as directed by Les Mayfield (who joins Raja Gosnell and Adam Shankman in the unholy trinity of the worst directors working today), this anti-comedy might be best described as a hate crime against taste. New Line presents The Man in a good anamorphic transfer (1.78:1) with smooth DTS, Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby 2.0 Surround mixes. Extras include a blooper reel (2 min.), five deleted or alternate scenes (6 min.), the featurettes "Sam Jackson's Guide to Cursing like a BadA&% MothaF$#@*&" (4 min.), "Who's The Man" (12 min.), "Making an Action Scene" (6 min.) and "The Ride: A Look at the '83 Cadillac" (6 min.). Theatrical and bonus trailers, keep-case.

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