Man of the Century

Johnny Twennies is an old fashioned guy. Literally. It is as if he was transplanted from earlier in the century to the world of today. Johnny writes a column for the Sun Telegram, a low rated paper in New York City. In Adam Abraham's new film Man of the Century, we follow Johnny for a couple of days, while everyone around him is completely befuddled by his strange behavior. Ignorance is bliss, and Johnny (Gibson Frazier, Visas and Virtue, True Rights) is as ignorant (or blissful) as they come. As far as he knows, it is the Roaring Twenties, and he couldn't be happier. He shops for the latest big band records, writes his column on a typewriter, and is the most chivalrous man you will ever meet.

Johnny is dating Samantha Winter (Susan Egan, Hercules), the owner of a fancy art studio. She likes him, but is frustrated because he has yet to even kiss her. Samantha is a woman of today, who knows what she wants, and she wants Johnny. However, Johnny is a man of yesteryear, and the only kiss he accepts from Samantha is on the cheek. When the Sun Telegram hires a new photographer (Anthony Rapp, Rent, Twister), Johnny takes it upon himself to show the ropes. The photographer, Timothy Burns (Timmy to Johnny) is an artist trying to make ends meet. He cares less about shooting good photos, just making money. The Sun Telegram is bought, and the new owner wants to revitalize the paper. Thus, Johnny's column and job are in danger. Meanwhile, a dangerous mob boss is using threats against many newspaper columnists, including Johnny. Johnny resolves to save his column by finding and exposing the identity of the mobster. What follows is a strange and funny fish out of water tale where Johnny uses his twenties sensibility in the dangerous world of the nineties.

Frazier's Johnny is the amalgamation of every stereotype of the man of the twenties. He speaks in staccato outbursts using slang alien to people of today, chain smokes, and runs like a girl. He slaps instead of punches, and the vilest curse he uses is "applesauce!" He also uses such out of date words as "moxy," "flapper," and "speakeasy." When asked if he is gay, he answers that he is "gay as a day in May." Things like homosexuality, vegetarians, and some of the more colorful cuss words are completely lost on him, and all of this makes him very attractive to women. His actions and method of thought are entirely alien to Samantha and Timothy. As the film progresses, Abraham's script easily brings together the divergent storylines, and involves everyone from buffoonish mob goons and a bathroom attendant, to a clumsy kid and an aspiring opera singer. Man of the Century is shot in black and white, which contributes to the strange feeling of the entire movie. Oddly enough, Abraham never explains Johnny's presence in today's world. It works too. Any explanation would take something away from the experience. Man of the Century is an amusing throwback to the cinema of yesterday, a nice old-fashioned movie with an ending that needs to be seen to be believed.

Mongoose Rates It: Pretty Good.
1 hour, 20 minutes, Rated R for language.

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