Man of the House

This is going to sound horrible - Man of the House was fun. Granted, it was fun for what it was, and it had extremely low aspirations as a movie. The premise is that an alpha male Texas Ranger needs to protect five girly-girl cheerleaders. Tommy Lee Jones (The Missing, The Hunted) good naturedly mocks his tough guy persona by playing Roland Sharp, and it is fun watching a bunch of girls get the better of him. At the same time, it feels a little dirty watching these five young actresses, Paula Garces, Christian Milian, Vanessa Ferlito, Monica Keena, and Kelli Garner, strut around in next to nothing. All of them are relatively new in their careers, and none have anything substantial in their resumes, and it's hard to see any of them growing as serious actors in the future. Heck, after seeing Ferlito (Spider-Man 2) in On_Line, it's hard to take her seriously.

But Heather (Ferlito), Anne (Milian, Torque, Love Don't Cost a Thing), Therese (Garces, Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, Marci X), Evie (Keena, Freddy Vs. Jason, Orange County), and Barb (Garner, The Aviator, Love Liza) witness the execution of a witness on a case that Sharp is working. Nobody knows there are witnesses, and the Rangers want to keep it that way. They send Sharp in undercover to protect them, and he promptly instates draconian rules for their safety. No cell phones, no dates, no parties, and they must always go out in pairs. Trying to look at the artistic merits of a film like Man of the House is pointless because there are none, and the filmmakers know it. Director Stephen Herek (Life or Something Like It, Rock Star), and writers Scott Lobdell, John J. McLaughlin, and Robert Ramsey and Matthew Stone (Intolerable Cruelty, Big Trouble) merely set out to give their audiences a chuckle, and it works, to a degree.

The joke is that Sharp is a huge hard ass, and the girls are the exact opposite. They need to reach some sort of compromise. He needs to learn to lighten up, and they need to learn responsibility. It's seriousness versus sass. A sub-plot involving his daughter and a potential love interest is supposed to add depth to his character, but feels like filler. Instead, Herek has Jones buy feminine products at the store, get a makeover, and stare at underwear hanging on his shower. Jones is certainly game for all this, and deadpans his way through most of the film. The fact that he takes things so seriously is what helps make Man of the House seem better than it actually is.

Herek missteps when he takes the film in an action direction for its conclusion. Man of the House works as a fish-out-of-water comedy, and doesn't work when he gets ambitious. But there isn't much depth to the film, which is probably why Herek adds explosions and car chases. This is also probably why Cedric the Entertainer (Johnson Family Vacation, Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events) shows up. He has no real purpose in the film, but does add some life to the proceedings. This is one of those trifles of a film that is so insubstantial that one will forget most of it after leaving the theater. There's nothing about it especially good, but then again, there's nothing about it that is especially bad.

Haro Rates It: Okay.
1 hour, 37 minutes, Rated PG-13 for violence, sexual content, crude humor, and a drug reference.

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