30 August 2013 | StevePulaski
Built for five minutes, not eighty
The fact that The Ladies Man originated from a skit on Saturday Night Live should surprise no one who has seen and disliked the film. The film feels exactly like a character who belongs in skits roughly five to eight minutes long, who will occasionally say something funny in those five to eight minutes, and then end on a comic-bang before the screenwriter decides to cut over to another sketch. The sad thing about The Ladies Man is it focuses on its title character (played by a clearly inspired Tim Meadows) for eighty long, often tedious minutes, completely deluding the character's comic effect because it must be referenced with almost every line he says.
I've discussed how tedious and often frustratingly unfunny Saturday Night Live films can often be (I wrote a whole blog on it three years back, so that should give an idea of how opinionated I was). Their main complaint links most of their films (with notable exceptions of the Wayne's World titles) in that they have difficultly giving their character's antics enough to do for a film's runtime. "The Ladies Man" character already has enough energy to be in a eighty minute film, but does he have the humor, plot, and charisma capabilities of carrying such precious minutes? How far does a sexist, afro-rockin' radio host go? The answer is not very far, but the film is at least buoyed by the competence and appeal of Tim Meadows, who can do no wrong in films as far as I'm concerned. His presence is casual and his attitude often laidback, even when he's playing a character as tiresome as this one. He plays Leon "The Ladies Man" Phelps, a studly black radio host who is known for his outspoken sexism on air during his nighttime show where he gives female callers shallow advice about relationships. The first thirty minutes of the film show his attitude and serve as nothing but a showcase for redundant jokes akin to that of modern Saturday Night Life sketches.
When the story finally does get going, it's lame and serves more as filler than as a significant plot. It follows a man who finds his wife cheating on him, only to spot a naked black man running outside his home with a smiley face tattooed on his rear. Turns out, there is a website dedicated to finding this man and a group of angry husbands meet up to try and track down the man who pleasures their wives. The result is a tiresome array of unfunny marital jokes and a predictable but slightly catchy song and dance number.
Tim Meadows (who serves as co-write on this film) is clearly inspired when playing "The Ladies Man." His personality is always energetic and here he plays a character he completely created and "perfected" himself. There is a genuine sense of fun and comfortableness when playing this role. The issue is that "The Ladies Man" is so thin and uninteresting as a character that he's more of an idea. In that regard, Meadows does a great job at playing an idea.
I return full circle to my point that I made in the beginning that stated that the films focuses on a character that feels exactly like he belongs in concise skits on Television. It's no surprise that after about fifteen minutes of laughing with and at the character, I began to be burdened with feelings of tedium. This only influences my point that a character with this personality belongs in shorts seventy-five minutes shorter than the film The Ladies Man.
Starring: Tim Meadows, Karyn Parsons, Billy Dee Williams, John Witherspoon, Will Ferrell, and Eugene Levy. Directed by: Reginald Hudlin.