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The Ladies Man

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: The Ladies Man

Starring: Tim Meadows, Kevin McDonald
Director: Reginald Hudlin
Rated: R
RunTime: 87 Minutes
Release Date: October 2000
Genre: Comedy

*Also starring: Lee Evans, Jimmy Fallon, Will Ferrell, Tamala Jones, Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, Billy Dee Williams, John Witherspoon

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1.  Steve Rhodes review follows movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review
2.  Dustin Putman read the review movie reviewvideo review

Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

Because THE LADIES MAN has one of the worst trailers in recent memory, the more I saw the trailers, the less I looked forward to the film's screening. When it finally came time for the screening, I could barely force myself to go. It turned out to be one of biggest and most enjoyable film surprises I've had in some time. Whereas the movie is no THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY, it is extremely funny and wonderfully sweet, although with quite a raunchy brand of humor.

Directed with good comedic timing by Reginald Hudlin and written uproariously by Tim Meadows, Dennis McNicholas and Andrew Steele, THE LADIES MAN stars Tim Meadows as Leon Phelps. Leon is a radio talk show host who likes to help people with their sexual difficulties. A mixture of Dr. Ruth and Howard Stern, Leon throws out advice a mile a minute, most of it unprintable.

The movie is like an African-American version of PRIVATE PARTS as it relates Leon's life story. With the wild wackiness of AUSTIN POWERS, the movie tells us of Leon's childhood as an orphan raised by buxom bunnies in a Playboy Mansion look-alike with a Hugh Hefner clone as his surrogate father. Having an Afro hairstyle from age 1 on, Leon is a guy who has been forever stuck in the 70s. His radio show's advice comes from his long experience as a ladies man, having had sex with half of the women in town. Maybe more.

Although this material could be crude and offensive, instead it is crude and funny, thanks to Meadows's eminent likeableness. With his little, disarming lisp, and his broad smile, he is such an easy guy to love that you can understand women falling for him, even if he isn't the handsomest guy on the block. A side-joke concerns his private part, which causes a blinding light when unleashed, and his butt, which has a smiley tattooed on it.

One of the reasons for the film's surprising success is the casting of Leon's sidekick. His radio producer and work companion, Julie, is played with charm and spunk by Karyn Parsons. She is one of the few women in his life with whom he hasn't slept.

After being thrown off of his popular radio show due to viewer complaints and management who hates him -- again, shades of PRIVATE PARTS -- Leon goes from rejection to rejection as he and Julie apply for jobs at other stations. After promising Julie that he'll clean up his act, he finally lands a job at a small religious station. His first guest is a nun who talks about assuming a missionary position and traveling to Bangkok. Sweating profusely, Leon looks in danger of short-circuiting his brain as he fights back bawdy responses to the comedic softballs she unknowingly throws at him.

The supporting cast is well utilized. Billy Dee Williams, playing a bartender, serves also as the story's narrator, giving Leon's story a fairy tale rendition. Will Ferrell plays Lance, the leader of a support group (VSA - Victims of the Smiling Ass) of husbands whose wives have been caught dallying with Leon. A Hummer driving, Greco-Roman wrestler who has a proclivity for heavy body oil and other wrestlers, Lance turns out to be quite a song-and-dance man. One of the film's delights is a long dance number with the VSA men that seems straight out of an old Rodgers and Hammerstein musical. It is well choreographed, tuneful and funny. (I'd trade this one number for all of DANCER IN THE DARK.)

The people, including Julie's parents, who take Leon's advice, end up happier and with a much better love life. So it is with the movie. Go in expecting little and you may find the movie as charming and funny as I did. Our half-full audience certainly laughed like a packed one.

THE LADIES MAN runs a lightening fast 1:24. It is rated R for sexual content and language and would be acceptable for older teenagers.

Copyright 2000 Steve Rhodes

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