The Ladies Man

Directed by Reginald Hudlin
Starring: Tim Meadows, Karyn Parsons, Billy Dee Williams, Tiffani Thiessen, Lee Evans, Will Ferrell.
MPAA Rating: R for sexual content and language.

Review by Matt Heffernan <matt@filmhead.com>
October 19, 2000

Stop right there! What do you think you're doing? Are you going to patronize another film based on a "Saturday Night Live" character? If you keep on doing this, it will only encourage Lorne Michaels to make more, and then nobody wins. We lose about eight bucks apiece, and he'll lose even more on the production of The Ladies Man. But, The Blues Brothers was good, right? Surely they can do that again. Well, in the last 20 years, only Wayne's World did its best not to suck. Based on this questionable record, more "SNL" films will be released, with enough of them making money to keep them coming. The Ladies Man isn't quite packing them in, so maybe, just maybe, Michaels will rethink any future projects.

Longtime "SNL" castmember Tim Meadows finally gets to star in his own film, based on his only significant recurring character after nine seasons of being The Black Guy. He is a very talented performer, but he acted mainly as a utility man (example: in the mid-90s, most O.J. Simpson sketches couldn't be done live, because he had to play both Juice and Johnnie Cochran). Not until the last few years of his tenure did he get to play Leon Phelps, host of the public access TV show "The Ladies Man". He would answer calls asking about love and sex while sipping his ubiquitous glass of Courvoisier cognac.

For the film version, he hosts a radio call-in show, but he is still the same chauvinistic, lisping lothario. His language on the air lost him his job, so now he must look for work with his faithful producer, Julie (Karyn Parsons). When a future career in radio looks bleak, he receives an anonymous letter from an old girlfriend, who offers to take him back now that she has the money to support them both. Leon forgets about radio, and a budding relationship with Julie, to find this mystery woman. Meanwhile, a support group of jealous husbands are looking for him, and they want blood in exchange for their wives' infidelity.

So, this is how they have taken another little sketch and turned it into a feature film. Even for an "SNL" sketch, "The Ladies Man" was pretty thin, and often repetitive. There is only so much of Leon Phelps that the average person can take, and that's about five minutes worth. Trying to make him a sympathetic character is impossible, but the filmmakers try. Unfortunately, director Reginald Hudlin proves to be incompetent, lending no order or reason to the film. Believe it or not, a wacky comedy still needs to be structured precisely, or it fails. All the funny lines in the world won't save it if there is no timing or visual coherency.

Hudlin lucked out with his first film, House Party, by depending on the charismatic rap duo Kid 'n Play for his leads, basically playing themselves. He has pretty much coasted on that for ten years. With a weak script and a tired character, he is helpless. Meadows and other "SNL" alumni such as Will Ferrell, Mark McKinney, and Jimmy Fallon (David Koechner also appeared in the trailer as either a drag queen or a really ugly woman, but his part must have been cut out) can only do so much with this mess. Meadows also co-wrote with two first-timers, which does not bode well for a future in either writing or starring in films.

You probably know that another "SNL" film is supposed to be in the works. Production on a film based on Mike Meyers' Dieter character, the host of the German show "Sprockets" ("Touch my monkey!"), has been stalled and is the basis of a high-profile lawsuit. If it weren't a Meyers vehicle, this would seem like a lot of sound and fury, signifying nothing. I don't care how that really turns out; just promise me one thing, Lorne: no Spartan Cheerleader movie.


For more information, go to the Internet Movie Database:
The Ladies Man (2000)

Here's some merchandise for sale at Amazon.com
The Ladies Man (2000) -- VHS
The Ladies Man (2000) -- DVD
The Ladies Man: Music from the Motion Picture -- Compact Disc


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Review © 2000 Matt Heffernan