The Ladies Man (2000) — Suave seducer learns the real art of love

“Ooo, it’s a lady!”

PoolMan’s rating: It’s an SNL movie… but it’s pretty damn good!

PoolMan’s review: There’s something you have to understand about my brother, Chris. If he finds something funny, he laughs with the force of a hurricane. This kid is huge, even next to me, and when he laughs, the neighbours want to know what’s so funny. And so it was, with me sitting next to my brother, clinging to my chair as the gales of laughter sprang forth from him. So I don’t know if it was just him amusing me, or The Ladies Man, but in any case, I was laughing right along with him.

The Ladies Man is among the newest releases from Lorne Michaels, longtime godfather of Saturday Night Live. And as you no doubt know, the success rate of SNL movies is somewhat akin to the success rate of Al Gore’s presidential campaign. It should be a winner, but for some reason or another, it just isn’t. Not so here. Leon Phelps (Tim Meadows) is a loveable, (un)believable smooth talker with a way of charming the ladies. It’s honestly the weirdest thing. Every time you think he’s gonna get shot down, he snags another babe. And in the next scene, he’s after another. Honestly, I think Kyle’s built a shrine to this character down the hall from my office.

Now, I’ll be the first to say, the writers took logic, crumpled it into a ball, and batted it the window long before the script was done. There are moments in this flick that make no sense. But watching Leon jump from chick to chick while avoiding a militia of pathetic men whose wives he’s slept with stayed crunchy in milk through the whole thing. You’d think the gag would get old quick, but it manages to stay fresh. And there’s a musical number in the middle! See? Even the womenfolk will love it!

Okay, this one’s low on brain power. But it’s got lots of personality, lots of good laughs, and Tiffany Amber Thiessen in some pretty revealing lingerie. That should be enough to sell most of you. Get it together in a group, and play along! Make up your own pickup lines! See if they’ll work on the person next to you! Not that I did that with my brother, or anything…

Justin’s rating: I’ll never have the power of this hair

Justin’s review: As you regular Justin-readers probably know, sometimes I feel like I’m on a crusade to support SNL comedies. Repeat after me: “They’re not ALL bad.” Sure, they’re not all great, either, but there is a definite critic bias against any cinematic feature affiliated with SNL since, like, 1995. A SNL comedy comes out, and immediately all critics pan it, saying, “Well of course it stinks, it’s an SNL comedy!” And this really weird conspiracy gets audiences everywhere shaking their head, wishing for the John Belushi-Chevy Chase-Bill Murray-Mike Myers days.

But if you take away the SNL stamp and just take the films at face value, I’ll tell you that movies like The Ladies Man end up being funnier than 70% of the comedies released that year. In terms of sheer out-loud laughs for me, Ladies Man vastly beat Little Nicky, Nutty Professor 2, or Me, Myself and Irene.

As you may well know, Leon Phelps (Meadows) runs a love advice radio show, where he mostly hits on lady callers and gives sexually inappropriate advice to people with real problems. Although being way more tame than Howard Stern, Phelps is soon kicked off the air, and he and his producer Julie go on a search for more money. For Julie, this means a new job. For Leon, this means exploiting the women he’s being promiscuous with. And this latter crowd is quite large indeed, as Leon Phelps proves both maddening and irresistible to the women folk. A lot of the humor comes from Leon’s blasé attitude to disheartening situations. He’s like The Brady Bunch Movie, out of time in the modern world. Very rarely does that “hey, how are YOU doing?” grin slide from his face, and all his outrageous statements are made with a light heart, which makes him all the more lovable.

The best subplot covers all the husbands/boyfriends of Leon’s love trysts. Enraged by the mysterious Affair Machine, they form a mob that roams the city (don’t they have jobs?) looking for Leon and promising wicked punishment when they do. Like principal Skinner said in the Simpsons, “There’s no justice like angry mob justice!” The mob is led by Will Ferrell (not his real screen name), who sidelines as an Olympic Greco-Roman wrestler. And he’s got a thing for lubing up once too often. At one point when the mob thinks it’s near to capturing Leon, they break out into a musical number that keeps going… and going… and going… as they fail to capture him. I dearly love any unnecessary musical numbers, particularly when they mock their own nature.

Although every line isn’t hysterically funny, The Ladies Man keeps popping in the laughs with regularity. Any movie that recycles Billy Dee Williams as a bartender that keeps talking to the camera (see Wayne’s World) is hip, and a gross-out bar food eating contest that ensues is a great example of how to be grossly funny without crossing the line into grossly UNfunny (take note, Tom Green). The romance part of the movie (of course Leon needs to rein in his wild oats, but it’s so darn hard!) lacks as it seems pretty artificial, but that’s about the biggest negative. I also wish they’d have done a bit more radio stuff, maybe even focused the movie around it, but oh well.

I would classify The Ladies Man as a light comedy that doesn’t take itself too seriously, great for relaxing without too much in the way of expectations. By all means, keep the SNL comedies coming!

Clare’s rating: It’s skank-tacular! (ok, not really, but the word “skank-tacular” makes me giggle)

Clare’s review: I had zero expectations that this movie would be any good. I don’t really like the SNL character that the movie’s about (Leon Phelps a.k.a.: The Ladies Man) and the ads made it look really stupid, so I figured I shouldn’t really bother to see it. However, it has Lee Evans in it as one of the jilted guys and Justin and Poolman seemed to think it was passing, so I thought I’d give it a whirl.

It is with begrudging acceptance that I tell you that this movie didn’t suck nearly as bad as I thought it would.

Picture that little blurb on the movie poster.

There were a handful of really funny scenes and a couple of handfuls of extremely funny dialogue. The story line basically falls apart towards the end, but the movie itself kept me entertained with side stuff enough that I was able to enjoy myself the entire way through. Laughed out loud a few times even.

I’d recommend The Ladies Man with the provision that you get it only if you really can’t find anything else at the movie store worth spending your money on. Or if you have a free rental that you want to use. Or if it comes on TV. Or if you’re at your bud’s house and he’s gotten it to watch. Or if you’re related to the cast or crew in any capacity. It wasn’t god awful boring, but there were a couple of weak sections. It’s not riotously funny, but it’s entertaining.

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