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Man of the House (2005)
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Tommy Lee Jones buying tampons=Instant Komedy!"
1 stars

Tommy Lee Jones is one of those rare actors who can take any line of dialogue and invest the words with the kind of simple and direct authority that make them sound absolutely convincing, no matter how unprepossessing they may appear on the page; this is a guy who created an unforgettable moment in “The Fugitive” out of the simple words “I don’t care!”. Therefore, I am at a loss to understand why he would choose to do a film like “Man of the House,” which consists of nothing but false moments and trite situations that even his presence can’t begin to overcome. Perhaps this was a grand experiment on his part to see if he could take a film that would have been rejected by even the most desperate exploitation house as being too infantile and somehow transform it through the sheer force of his will. If that is the case, then the experiment was a bitter failure. If not, it is a clear indication that his BS-detector, already clearly on its last legs after the likes of “The Missing” and “Men in Black 2," is in desperate need of an overhaul before he chooses any more scripts in the future.

Once again, he plays another taciturn, no-nonsense authority figue, hard-ass Texas Ranger Roland Sharp. While apprehending a suspect who is needed to testify in a trial, he gets ambushed and the frightened suspect flees and is quickly gunned down by a killer hired by the defendant. It turns out, however, that this murder is witnessed by a gaggle of air-head University of Texas cheerleaders, played by Christina Milan, Kelli Garner, Monica Keena, Paula Garces and Vanessa Ferlito. Despite the questionable worth of their potential testimony (there is a gratingly “cute” scene in which they each describe the shooter in such radically different terms that no prosecutor who dare put any of them on the stand), it is decided that they are valuable witnesses and Sharp is assigned to watch over them. As a result, he move in with them on-campus and poses as their cheerleading coach; strangely, hardly anyone seems to think that the idea of one grown man living in the same campus housing as five young co-eds is at all weird or creepy. Perhaps they just haven’t noticed because several of his charges are obviously a few years older than your average college cheerleader, even by Texas standards.

Of course, the film isn’t really concerned with the idea of Jones posing as a cheerleading coach (a notion that is so poorly established that we never get a single scene in which he has to demonstrate his so-called abilities) or even with the notion of the mysterious killer attempting to track down Sharp and his witnesses. (Strangely, the film hides the killer’s identity from us during the murder, only to reveal who he is less than five minutes later.) No, all of this is merely a prelude to the presumed wackiness to come from the grumpy Jones having to live with a bunch of girls who look like they emerged from the pages of “Maxim,” but possess less depth than any five articles from same. If you can think of an obvious bit, it is probably here. Jones gets all flustered at the girls strutting around in tiny outfits. Jones drives them nuts with his restrictive rules and deep-dish pizzas. Jones gets a make-over. One of the girls gets an inexplicable crush on Jones. Jones has to go shopping for tampons and such. Jones bonds with the girls while roller-skating to the sounds of ABBA. The girls help Jones reconnect with his estranged daughter. Jones finally figures out who the bad guy is and the girls help save the day with their mad skills. Basically, the girls help solve everyone’s problems with the kind of selfless tenacity not seen since Winn-Dixie bounded onto screens a couple of weeks ago; the difference is that it is much more fun to have one of them jumping onto your lap, licking your face or humping your leg (though I suppose that might require a two-drink minimum).

And yes, there is even a bit of strenuously unfunny comedy relief (which you would think is unnecessary in a film that is, after all, supposed to be a comedy in the first place) involving Cedric the Entertainer, who portrays an ex-con that Jones tracks down at the beginning and who keeps popping up for reasons that defy any rational explanation. Okay, I will admit that the latter does lead to the one unexpected moment in the film; I must admit that when I sat down to watch this film, I did not think that I would have to endure a scene in which Tommy Lee Jones, the guy from such masterpieces as “The Executioner’s Song,” “Rolling Thunder” and “Natural Born Killers”, would be removing a ringing cell phone from the business end of a cow.

As premises go, the notion of fusing the giddy silliness of “Bring It On” to a standard cop thriller is not necessarily a terrible idea, though I doubt that Charlie Kaufman will spend too many sleepless nights bemoaning the fact that he didn’t think of it first. What sinks “Man of the House” is that all of the energy involved with the production must have been spent entirely on conceiving the premise (no doubt after a long, logy and beery lunch) because there was simply none left based on the results of the finished product. This isn’t so much a bad film as it is a dead one–it has no energy or zip and the actors plod through with what can only be described as grim determination, which is not exactly the kind of attitude that any film claiming to be a comedy should be conveying. Apparently, all concerned must have realized too late what they should have figured out the moment they cracked open the script; that this seems less like a real movie and more like one of those fake movies that they sometimes show clips from on “The Simpsons.” Let me just say that even those viewers most susceptible to the joys of hot babes in short skirts may find themselves trolling the multiplex for the likes of “Soccer Mummy” or Zorro becoming the king of England long before the end credits roll.

The one aspect of “Man of the House” that is worthy of notice is Vanessa Ferlito, who portrays the tough, sarcastic cheerleader of the group-sort of the equivalent of Jo on “The Facts of Life” (and oh, how I wish I didn’t have the information lodged in my head to make such an allusion). Granted, her character doesn’t make much sense–she is surly at some points, dippy at others and then inexplicably starts quoting from “Full Metal Jacket” (possibly as a shout-out to co-star R. Lee Ermey)–and seems to have been included for no other reason than the fact that Eliza Dushku played a similar part in “Bring It On”. Nevertheless, she has a spark to her and an infectious smile (among other attributes) that kept me watching until the end just to discover who this person was. I gather from the IMDB that she appeared, unknown to me, in films such as “Spider-Man 2" and “The 25th Hour” as well as TV shows that I have either given up on (“24") or never bothered with in the first place (“CSI: N.Y.”). I suspect that she may inspire other viewers unfamiliar with her to perform similar searches and all I can say is that I don’t blame you. She is a find and you have to give it up to the filmmakers for having the taste and common sense to cast her in a film. Too bad for us that those attributes apparently eluded them for the remainder of the project

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=11769&reviewer=389
originally posted: 02/26/05 14:13:06
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User Comments

7/24/10 art NOT A TOTAL LOSS!,AT least he GIRL"S were BEAUTIFUL! 3 stars
10/30/08 Shaun Wallner This movie was stupid! 1 stars
3/11/08 art THIS MOVIE WAS MISERABLE 1 stars
6/30/07 Jeff Anderson Stale & predictable comedy, even Jones(WHY!!)looks bored & lifeless. I DON'T BLAME HIM!!!!! 1 stars
3/30/07 David Pollastrini PRETTY DUMB 2 stars
1/03/07 Matt A few giggles, but what was Tommy thinking?? 2 stars
8/03/06 KristinOhyeah Good movie..enjoyed it with the family 5 stars
6/18/06 ALBERT very funny! 4 stars
4/09/06 Anthony Feor Tell Cedric that I'm not very entertained by this flick 1 stars
12/08/05 Frank Rountree this movie was way worse than I expected 2 stars
7/17/05 helen make respectable movies(about women) 1 stars
7/06/05 Heather Purplethorne A whole lot funnier than the concept deserved to be. 4 stars
7/04/05 Save Tommy Lee! Send him a buck or two over the mail so he doesn't have to do this sort of dross anymore 1 stars
5/10/05 Wilma Cox Great Hook 'em Horns 5 stars
2/28/05 mott the drupal r lee ermey says this movie sucks balls, maggots! 2 stars
2/28/05 KingNeutron This movie was WAY better than I expected. Nice nod to the Blues Bros at the end. 5 stars
2/27/05 Naka Oh, bloody hell, NO. 1 stars
2/26/05 Kristina Williams damn, what's happened to poor Tommy? 1 stars
2/25/05 Mark Hanson Funny movie 5 stars
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  25-Feb-2005 (PG-13)
  DVD: 19-Jul-2005



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