Sunday, March 13, 2005

All The Best Parts Are In The Trailer

Out of all the types of bad movies, the worst are bad comedies. With every other type of bad movie, from drama to horror, you can at least laugh at how bad it is. A movie like Mission To Mars, with its Kubrick ripoffs and Disneyfied aliens, was funny as hell when I saw it at a preview screening when I was in college. However, when a comedy is bad, it's extremely unpleasant to watch. A comedy is supposed to make you laugh and when it doesn''s boring.

I had the misfortune of watching one such bad comedy, Man Of The House. The story had the makings of at least a so-so comedy. A group of college cheerleaders witness a murder and a Texas Ranger (played by Tommy Lee Jones) is assigned to protect them from potential harm. The execution of this story is chock full of cliches, stereotypes, and just downright stupidity.


Let's start with the cheerleaders. They are all one-dimensional characters. They basically provide some cheap PG-13 T&A with stereotypes to provide depth. One cheerleader is black and shows it in the film by providing some "attitude" at random times. She calls Tommy Lee Jones "a white boy" at one point to show the audience that she is indeed black (if they didn't know already). Another cheerleader is a Latina who spouts random Spanish phrases (she actually yells "Hay Dios Mio!" when the group is upset about something). Then there is the cheerleader that doesn't really belong with the cheerleading group and bonds with Tommy Lee Jones. There is also a cheerleader with a crush on Jones (daddy fetish, anyone?) which leads to trouble during the climax of the movie. The fifth cheerleader has no distinguishing characteristics of any kind...she's just there to make the group five people strong.

The story is all over the place in this film. I admit I missed a little of the beginning, but I couldn't figure out the whole murder subplot at all. All I know is that the villain was a crooked FBI agent. He tries to kill the girls exactly once in the movie (that's right, only once). By the end of the film, all he wants to do is get the money from the crime he committed and flee to Mexico since "he's a dead man anyway." Why is he a dead man? Who did he work for? What's the deal with the money? Maybe those few precious minutes at the beginning of the film that I missed explained all that, but I doubt it.

The other subplots in the film are extremely truncated. Jones's character hooks up with the English professor of one of the cheerleaders. He meets her after one of her classes and then in the grocery store where he's buying maxi pads for the cheerleaders. They have one date and then we don't see her until the end of the movie where we find out (after seeing the "Six Months Later" title card) that she and Jones are getting married! I know that little subplot would be what is commonly referred to as "old people love" but still...the movie didn't even give the hint that the two characters could have had a relationship before the whole wedding thing is sprung on us at the end. Also, there was a scene where the cheerleader who "doesn't belong" and one of Jones's officers are talking. It felt like the obligatory first scene when two people get to know each other and realize they like each other. However, after Jones abruptly stops the conversation, we see nothing of it again. Something tells me that a whole subplot was deleted except for that one scene...which makes me wonder why they even bothered to keep it in.

The only things close to funny in this film are the all-too-brief scenes with Cedric The Entertainer. He does what he can with his thankless role (as a reverend...again). His danceoff with the cheerleaders is funny only because Cedric is such a good physical comedian. His scene at the end of the film is kind of funny, again, only because of him.

Ultimately, there are a ton of better movies that you can spend your money on. If you're looking for a comedy with hot cheerleaders, rent Bring It On. If you're looking for a comedy with a law enforcement person protecting a group of women from being killed, rent Miss Congeniality. If you're looking for a comedy with Tommy Lee Jones, rent Men In Black. If you're looking for a comedy with Cedric The Entertainer, rent Barbershop or Johnson Family Vacation. Every one of those films is better and funnier than Man Of The House.

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