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An Impotent 'Ladies Man'

By Rita Kempley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 13, 2000


    'The Ladies Man' Leon Phelps (Tim Meadows) lisps his way into the ladies' hearts in this "SNL" takeoff.
Paramount Pictures
"The Ladies Man," another cheesy, overdrawn and witless "Saturday Night Live" takeoff, attempts the impossible: to turn lisping love machine Leon Phelps (Tim Meadows) into a Waynesque film franchise. "SNL's" Lorne Michaels appears to be pathologically addicted to producing these cheap showcases and – sometimes – career-killers. Can't somebody make him stop?

Leon, like the androgynous Pat and the perky Mary Katherine, is funny for about five minutes (this, of course, is no reason to stop the presses). Alas, the movie runs for another 82 minutes, most of them devoid of laughs because Meadows, also the writer, doesn't know what he's doing when it comes to creating a full-length script rather than a comic vignette.

Even though the movie has at least four plot lines, Leon remains a character in search of a story. Ideally, the yarn would take full advantage of the polyester playboy's insatiable libido. This one forces the Courvoisier-sipping, skirt-chasing, Afro-wigged hero to rethink his priorities, perhaps even settle down, move to the suburbs and have kids.

Leon, a late-night talk-radio host, is fired when the station manager finally gets fed up with his misguided, raunchy advice to the lovelorn. His spunky producer, Julie (Karyn Parsons of "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air"), also gets the ax, but for unfathomable reasons insists that they remain a team. When they finally find jobs at a Christian station, Leon can't contain himself while interviewing a nun who is seeking a missionary position in Bangkok. So out they both go again.

Leon is running out of options when he receives a letter, signed "Sweet Thing," from a wealthy former conquest who is begging him to return to her bed. That turns out to be a dangerous invite, and very soon a gang of cuckolded husbands, led by "SNL" veteran Will Ferrell as a closeted gay wrestler, have banded together to avenge themselves on Leon. In retrospect, perhaps it should come as no surprise that this involves desperate production numbers and show tunes. Well, it fills the time and, however outlandish and homophobic, it's much superior to another nasty butt joke.

"The Ladies Man" (87 minutes, at area theaters) is rated R for sexual situations, vulgar language and nudity.


Copyright 2000 The Washington Post Company

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