“I have made love to many fine ladies from the lowliest bus station skank to the classiest most sophisticated, educated, debutant, high society… bus station skank.”
In 1998, Lorne Michaels and his Saturday Night Live cronies did the impossible. They took a sketch that consisted of nothing more than two douche bags bobbing their heads to the beat of an embarrassingly shitty 90s song, and turned it into a feature length movie. A Night at the Roxbury took its $17million budget, and almost doubled it in box office receipts. So it’s no wonder that Michaels felt bullet proof enough to bring another paper thin SNL character to the big screen with, The Ladies Man.
It might be the beginning of a new millennium, but Leon Phelps (Tim Meadows) is firmly stuck in a cartoon version of the 70s, with his massive afro, flared, pastel suits and antiquated notions of masculinity being based solely on making sweet love to as many women as possible. A pursuit he tries to aid the rest of the world in with his middle of the night radio show.
When one too many mentions of doggy style and giving it, “in the butt”, get him and his producer (Karyn Parsons as Julie Simmons) fired, Leon has to find a new home for his radio advice show. While at the same time, the many, many jilted husbands and boyfriends of women Leon has seduced form their own self support group / lynch mob, lead by Lance DeLune (Will Ferrell).
Usually, the biggest problem with any SNL inspired movie is figuring out how to extend a flimsy, four mite sketch idea into a feature length film. One thing The Ladies Man gets unequivocally right is how quickly it gets the business of its sketch origins and catch phrases out of the way immediately. The opening few minutes are a classic Ladies Man sketch, hitting all the required and expected notes nice and early. With those out of the way, it can then roam freely thought its ludicrously goofy world and story.
I don’t want to get too carried away and make anyone think that this is a great movie. It’s passable, at best. And even at a slight 80 minutes, you can feel it really struggling to fill that modest run time as it winds towards its silly climax. But it manages to just make it to its own silly climax before it snaps
Of all of the flimsy Saturday Night Live sketch ideas to have spawned movies, I would have expected The Ladies Man to be one of the most inessential. And when movies like It’s Pat exist, that’s really saying something. But what this movie delivers is something surprisingly light, fun, self aware, and most importantly, funny. Sure, it’s not as good as The Blues Brothers or Wayne’s World. But it’s not nearly as bad as Blues Brothers 2000 or pretty much any other SNL movie ever made.