Plot: Roland Sharp (Tommy Lee Jones) is a tough as nails, no nonsense Texas Ranger, the kind of man who no criminal wants to cross paths with. He has a reputation as the best in his field, so whenever it is on the line, he is called in to handle the situation. But his personal life hasn’t been such a success, as his devotion to his work has caused him problems at home. His marriage ended in divorce and while he loves his daughter Emma (Shannon Woodward), he has trouble letting her know how he feels. His latest manhunt produced a key witness, but as the witness was being taken in, a sniper turned the situation into chaos. The shooter follows the witness down an alley and finishes him off, unaware that five witnesses have seen his crime. The witnesses are five perky, young cheerleaders, all with attitudes. Now Sharp has to protect these young women and at the same time, try to help them identify the shooter. But when the situation turns into a lot more than he expected, can this tough as nails Texas Ranger handle the pressure?
Entertainment Value: This Revolution Studios comedy centers on the premise of a no nonsense Tommy Lee Jones trying to cope in close quarters with a group of tightly wound, high maintenance sorority girls, which isn’t a bad concept. Not the most original or creative idea, but it does what it needs to and the cast is game, so the material works better than it should. The main drive is seeing the culture clash, which has been done in countless other movies, but Jones is so on point, that even mundane exchanges deliver some laughs. In other words, Man of the House is carried by the cast and the focus on characters, rather than the well tread narrative. So even if the story doesn’t appeal to you, if you’re a fan of Jones or anyone else on the cast, you’ll likely have a little fun with this one. The pace is a little slow in places and the narrative gets bogged down, especially late in the movie, however. I think a snappier, brisker pace could have worked wonders, given the comedic tone involved and since the emotional beats fall flat, a tighter focus on humor would have been welcome. Even so, Man of the House is a passable comedy with some bright spots and a few laughs.
Tommy Lee Jones has the central role here and while he has an ensemble around him, he carries this one for the most part. His gruff, no nonsense persona works well in this kind of material, as his banter with the girls is a highlight and the culture clash elements are effective. His performance dips a bit when the movie tries to push a romance into the mix, but that is on the material, not his effort as the character. He handles the straight man role with ease, allowing his more energetic costars to shine in their shared scenes, which elevates their performances. Although Jones is more than competent with more comic driven material, his turn here is best in the straight man slot, so when the movie tries to lean him into the broader humor, I don’t think it works as well. I also think R. Lee Ermey is fun to watch in this one, while Monica Keena is the standout from the sorority girls squad. The cast also includes Paget Brewster, Cedric the Entertainer, Christina Milian, Shannon Woodward, and Anne Archer.