The Man Les Mayfield

"It's like a dream come true," says The Man screenwriter Steve Carpenter during one of this DVD's "making of" featurettes, "Sam and Eugene; they take my bad dialogue and make it good." Besides that fact that it's not true, this isn't the kind of thing you want to hear coming from your film's idea man. An angry cop (Sam Jackson) and a dental supply salesman (Eugene Levy) get entangled in an arms trafficking investigation at the edges of the law. It's a "fish out of water" story that can't find any momentum, much less fresh insight into the genre. Each new encounter with the bad guys seems nearly identical to the last, and there's only ever the mildest escalation in tension and comedy as the plot lurches forward. Mainly it is just a whole bunch of Jackson and Levy driving around Detroit in a black '83 Cadillac exchanging reams of lukewarm, underwritten banter. Neither lead manages to muster more than a hint of gravitas, much less a good comeback. As for Mayfield's "direction," his decisions are nothing if not arbitrary. This becomes painfully clear during the DVD's deleted scenes, in which Levy plays one of the film's few purely physical gags in a totally different way. Once edited back into the film, the new scene makes absolutely no difference to the tone of the scene that comes after it. It's the kind of detail that speaks to the script's flabbiness and to the director's lack of vision for his story. (Sony)