Here's a question: When is it a good idea to turn a three-minute "Saturday Night Live" skit into a full-length feature film?
Judging from "The Ladies Man," the answer is: Never.
You would think the SNL crew would know better, after box-office duds like last year's "Superstar" and 1998's "A Night at the Roxbury." But with "The Ladies Man," yet another funny SNL skit has made a disastrous transition to the big screen, with the running joke of Tim Meadows' suave lover-wannabe persona stretched almost as thin as the movie's far-fetched plot. Meadows plays Leon Phelps - otherwise known as the Ladies Man - a sleazy radio talk-show host with a lisp who never left '70s fashion behind, Afro and all. Phelps fancies himself quite the Don Juan of Chicago, doling out advice on air like "If you're really and truly in love, you'll feel it deep down in your pants."
Not surprisingly, such comments inspire the station to fire Phelps and his beautiful radio producer Julie (played by Karyn Parsons from "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air"). When the two can't find another job, Phelps begins the search for one of his previous conquests who sends him a letter asking him to return to her and her wealth. The problem is, the letter is only signed "Sweet Thing" and as you can guess, Phelps has had many of those in his hornball existence.
In the movie's sub-plot - which doesn't garner many laughs either - SNL's usually funny Will Ferrell plays Lance, whose wife Phelps has bedded. Lance leads a troop of similarly spurned husbands in a slapstick mission to hunt down Phelps and cut off his, uh, essentials.
Predictably, all ends well. Phelps finds his mystery woman, figures out that he's really in love with Julie and also gets to keep his reproductive capabilities.
But the film doesn't answer more compelling questions, such as why the sweet and seemingly intelligent Julie would be attracted to a scum-bucket like Phelps. Girl, haven't you heard of STDs?
And the bigger question that remains unanswered is, why would anyone pay to see this movie?
`The Ladies Man'
Starring Tim Meadows, Karyn Parsons and Billy Dee Williams
Directed by Reginald Hudlin
Released by Paramount Pictures
Running time 87 minutes
Rated R (for numerous booty and body-part references)
Sun score *