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Eugene Levy should never be asked to do the following things: (1) play a scene in which his pants are around his ankles, (2) say, “It’s only a little flatulence,” and (3) be accused of peeing in the pool, especially when there’s no reason for his character to be standing in a pool to begin with. Sadly, Levy does all this and more in The Man, a tacky buddy comedy that even at a mere 83 minutes is excruciating. How bad is it? Well, the script, by a trio of writers of little significance, contains one-liners such as “Let’s not and say we did” and actually saves a Spice Girls joke for the big finale. (Co-writer Jim Piddock, at least, should know better: As an actor, he’s worked with Levy in both Best in Show and A Mighty Wind.) Worse, the movie demonstrates just how low the obviously talented Levy and Samuel L. Jackson will go for a paycheck: to the point of stealing cartoonlike Befuddled Midwesterner and Angry Cop roles from a couple of WB rejects. Director Les Mayfield, who previously helmed the forgettable Blue Streak and the god-awful Flubber, presides over the mess, which is unsettlingly ass-obsessed as it tells the story of how Levy’s nebbishy dental-supplies salesman, Andy Fiddler, gets involved in a little gun-running operation that Jackson’s Special Agent Derrick Vann sets up in order to find out who killed his partner. Mostly, The Man is scene after scene of Vann’s yelling, “Get in the car!” or “Shut up!” and Fiddler’s resisting both directives. Vann’s repeated references to “shit” could be funny only because of the word’s suitability as a succinct critique of the proceedings, but here’s where the movie digs a little deeper: Vann’s constant cursing combines with his daughter issues—naturally, there’s a big recital to miss—to prompt the softhearted Fiddler to try to make his temporary partner a better man. Can we now pronounce The Man worthy of your time and money? Let’s not and say we did. —Tricia Olszewski