Back to prove Saturday Night Live skits turned into movies are bound to bomb unless they include Mike Myers, Lorne Michæls the Producer this time offers us The Ladies Man. Here, it’s Tim Meadows’ SNL ladies man character, Leon Phelps, going from smooth-talking pimp-daddy to feature-length failure. While Leon may be ever slick when it comes to playing the women, when it boils down to leading man in a major movie, The Ladies Man is a total dud.
Sporting a monster afro and the wardrobe of a 70s playa, Leon Phelps spends his days and nights in Chicago either having sex or trying to have sex with women. Leon is host of a Loveline-type radio relationship show, where even his trusty producer Julie (Karyn Parsons) is incapable of reigning in Leon’s relentlessly perverted advice. Booted from the show for being too erotically outspoken, Leon tries ardently to find a replacement job. But when he gets caught buck-naked leaving the scene of an adultery crime, he becomes identified by the woman’s husband as a-guy-with-a-smiley-face-tattoo-on-his-a*s. Turns out, the screwed over husbands of the women Leon has loved have their own support group and they band together to put an end to The Ladies Man.
Somewhere along the way, Leon gets a letter from an ex-lover offering him a union that would provide him with enough cash to support him in the manner to which he would like to become accustomed. Then it turns out the lady lover is one Honey DeLune (Tiffani-Amber Thiessen) and her husband is Lance DeLune (Will Ferrell), also known as the head of the men who want to assassinate Leon. Then all the men run around hunting for Leon. Then they do a song and dance number. Then Leon starts to realize Julie is a nice girl. Then he starts thinking maybe he’s in love with Julie and doesn’t want to be a Ladies Man after all. It suffices to say, The Ladies Man is not exactly based on a true story and does not appear to even attempt to be a cohesive one.
While the original Ladies Man on SNL was funny–Meadows’ combination of pimp-speak with polite seducer was pretty hilarious–as soon as Leon loses his job at the near start of Ladies Man, the movies loses Leon too. Leon’s funniest when he’s playing Leon the Love Expert; when Leon is just a philandering ladies man, the joke of the player-sexpert is lost. Speaking of jokes, The Ladies Man is largely bereft of them, trying to ride a funny character through a movie rather than constructing a funny movie around one. No cameos from Billy Dee Williams–as the neighborhood barkeep–or even Julianne Moore–as a h***y clown–can help when things are this close to the lowest common denominator. Unimaginative directing by Reginald Hudlin of House Party fame and uninspired screenwriting by Dennis McNicholas and Andrew Steele of SNL are both to be to be blamed for taking a clever character and rendering it absent of wit.
One can only assume that when The Ladies Man lands in theaters–featuring the adventures of a well-hung and perverted black man–Spike Lee won’t be the only person around tearing his hair out in agony.