There are movies that come out of nowhere, completely enrapture us, and have us singing their praises to anybody who will listen. Movies that will stand the test of time and be added to most DVD collections. Other movies (Alone in the Dark) appear in our theaters only briefly, and much like Funyon-induced flatulence, they stink up the joint and then disappear as quickly as they came. Then there are movies like Man of the House. They come, they moderately entertain, but they really don't add anything fresh or new to the industry. They simply manage to keep you smiling for an hour and a half before making their way to the Wal-Mart bargain bin.
The generically cheesy title (Man of the House? Come on!) should immediately warn you that we're not exactly diving into uncharted waters. No towing the line will be allowed here! But that's OK. Sure, the movie is by-the-numbers, predictable, silly, and whatever other clichéd buzz words you want to use for a movie that's not brimming with originality. It's a pretty simple mix really: we've got Jones, some hot cheerleaders to look at, and a few laughs. Fortunately, I like Jones and hot cheerleaders. And you know what? I laughed! I didn't have to see a doctor about my busted gut afterwards, but I was entertained, and sometimes that's enough to satisfy me on a Friday afternoon.
This is a fun, cutesy, fluffy movie that bases most of its jokes on the contrast of Tommy Lee Jones' no-nonsense, non-joking persona with the bubbly personalities of five college cheerleaders who don't appreciate his rules. Of course, this means they will do their best to rebel a bit. For example, they continue to dress scantily despite Jones' insistence that they try to wear a few more articles of clothing. No problem. TLJ just purchases an extremely expensive air conditioner to force them to cover up. It may cost the Texas Rangers a few thousand dollars, but it'll teach those girls a lesson in modesty! In a surprising twist that is bound to shake the very foundations of cinema as we know it, the gals grow to like TLJ despite his leather tough exterior. They really want to help him discover his inner sensitivity because let's face it, when you look like a piece of beef jerky you need all the help you can get. So when TLJ has a big date with one of the cheerleaders' professors (Anne Archer), they swoop in to trim his nose and ear hair, give him a manicure, and tidy him up. All the middle-aged women who love Tommy Lee Jones and his Southern drawl go awwwwwwwwwwwwwwww! And the scene where the cheerleaders help teach Jones how to skate is also sure to make those elderly female hearts flutter. I won't spoil it for you and tell you whether he falls or not. I'll give you the joy of finding out for yourself.
Then of course there are the jokes that play to the stereotype of some cheerleaders not being too bright. When Jones announces that he's with the Texas Rangers, one of the cheerleaders excitedly asks, "Do you know Derek Jeter?" Some people will find moments like this to be stupid, while others (such as my mother and sister) will think they're absolutely adorable.
The best advice I can give you is to picture in your mind Tommy Lee Jones living with five cheerleaders. How funny is the image to you? Let that be your guide. If you don't like TLJ, then there's not much here for you because he's responsible for keeping this from being a made-for-TV movie that I probably wouldn't have had any interest in watching.
THE GIST Man of the House isn't exactly a movie to get excited about, but it provides enough laughs to keep its head above water. If you like Tommy Lee Jones (or hot cheerleaders) and you thought the trailer looked halfway decent then this is a serviceable matinée (or a future rental). Otherwise, you probably won't find it worth your time.
Rating: 3 (out of 5)