Man of the House

on February 25, 2005 by Shlomo Schwartzberg
What was Tommy Lee Jones thinking? That's the first thought that comes to mind when contemplating what the esteemed actor is doing in the middle of a vapid, disposable film like "Man of the House," where he is reduced to playing den father to a gaggle of adolescent cheerleaders. Seriously, that's the whole story, with Jones essaying the title role of Roland Sharp, a crusty, tough Texas Ranger who is assigned to guard said cheerleaders after they've witnessed a murder and are thus in danger of being offed by the killer. Sharp's the old-fashioned sort who disapproves of the girls' skimpy attire, eating habits and overall way of living. The girls, a generally brainless lot, don't want a father figure cramping their style. Of course, they all learn to get along, with Sharp even buying tampons for them at one point. Aww!

As for the bad guy who's supposed to be propelling the plot by chasing after the girls, you might understandably forget he exists. The film does for long stretches of time, focusing instead on Sharp and his charges as they bond.

Had director Stephen Herek lived up to the talent he displayed in "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" and had the screenwriters shown an ounce of wit, "Man of the House" could at least have generated some suspense. Jones does his best with the substandard material, giving his character from "The Fugitive" a "Kindergarten Cop" twist, but there's only so much he can do to generate audience interest in this snoozer of a movie. Starring Tommy Lee Jones, Anne Archer, Cedric the Entertainer and Christina Milian. Directed by Stephen Herek. Written by John J. McLaughlin, Robert Ramsey and Matthew Stone. Produced by Todd Garner, Steven Reuther and Allyn Stewart. A Columbia release. Comedy. Rated PG-13 for violence, sexual content, crude humor and a drug reference. Running time: 98 min

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