Tommy Lee Jones doesn't learn his lines, he wears them. And that craggy face of his looks even stonier than usual in Man Of The House, a what-if comedy that lazily plays off the star's image to generally mirthless results. Turning Jones' implacable lawman from The Fugitive into a cheerleaders' babysitter may have looked a good idea on paper, but the high-concept pitch produces some very lowbrow farce - most of it provided by Cedric The Entertainer's coarse turn as an ex-con turned preacher.
"I do not kid or joke or jest or jape," Texas Ranger Roland Sharp (Jones) tells the five University of Texas cheerleaders he's been assigned to protect after they accidentally stumble on a murder. But having seen Witness, Kindergarten Cop and the rest, we all know it's only a matter of time before his crotchety exterior is worn down by their perky charms. The problem is that we never get any sense the girls are in actual peril from Brian Van Holt's bad-guy copper, whom Jones seems in no hurry to apprehend or even identify.
"THE FILM'S AS STATIC AS ITS STAR"
No, director Stephen Herek is far more interested in seeing Jones impose curfews, buy sanitary towels and lecture his charges on everything from ethics to self-defence. One mildly diverting interlude sees the teenagers use Sharp's own surveillance equipment to coach him through a date with Anne Archer's kindly professor. But overall the film is as static as its star's face which - given the large amount of scantily-clad female flesh on display - is really quite an achievement.