Tim Meadows, who was always underutilized on Saturday Night Live, finally gets his due with an SNL Studio movie of his own. The film stretches his sketch as smooth-talking womanizer Leon Phelps, better known as The Ladies Man, into 87 minutes that will give Meadows’ fans plenty of laughs. As the host of a radio call-in show and a self-proclaimed expert on the ladies, the adorable, lisping Phelps — terribly out of date with a big bubble of an Afro and slick polyester garb — dispenses advice and answers any romantic query. To slide into the mood, he dims the lights, pours a glass of Courvoisier, lights a cigar and candles and turns down the music. “I’ve made love to lots of ladies, from the bus-station skank to the highest debutante skank,” he coos into the mike, offering such advice to the lovelorn as, “Go to the bus station or a bowling alley, and don’t wear underpants.” He’s a disco Don Juan who lives on a houseboat on the Chicago River that he’s proudly dubbed his “Skank Tuary.” Phelps’ love nest is complete with the round waterbed, a variety of “butt lotions” from K-Mart, a phone shaped like a women in a bikini, and more. When it comes to style and sensibilities, Leon Phelps is definitely stuck in a ’70s time warp. But his outdated instincts are never offensive; he’s far too harmless to be taken very seriously. And Tim Meadows, with his tight, toned and compact body and winning smile, just has fun playing the pixie of lust. Despite Leon’s bad pick-up lines and even worse attire, beautiful women of all backgrounds fall for his shtick, and he leaves a trail of angry husbands in his wake. Watch for bit parts from SNL regular Tim Farrell as one of a legion of wronged husbands out to get the ladies’ man. Their musical number is as hilarious as it is unexpected. The smooth-talking Billy Dee Williams plays the bartender at Leon’s favorite hangout. Williams also doubles as the film’s narrator — an unnecessary vehicle for driving the plot that could easily have been dropped. Karyn Parsons gives a first-class performance as Leon’s class-act producer, the woman who inevitably inspires him to give up his womanizing ways. It’s clear from the beginning that they’ll fall for each other, but they’re both such likable characters that their predictable romance works. You might want to wait for the dollar movie, but for sheer mindless entertainment that’s less raunchy than many similar romantic farces, dim the lights and enjoy The Ladies Man.
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