Walk Like a Man (March 21/04)
Walk Like a Man is one of those movies that one remembers as being good, but it actually isn't. With a surefire premise - a man raised by wolves is reintegrated into high society - it seems as though it should be a classic '80s wacky comedy, along the lines of Weekend at Bernie's (both films even share the same writer, Robert Klane). But the majority of the comedy in Walk Like a Man is played far too broadly - yes, I realize how ridiculous that sounds considering I just praised Weekend at Bernie's - ensuring that kids will likely get the most out of the movie.
The film opens with a prologue in which young Bobo is left behind in the woods by his family, after his older brother pushes the toddler off the snow sled on which they were traveling. Some 20 years later, Bobo (played by Howie Mandel) is found by a plucky scientist named Penny (Amy Steel) and brought back to civilization. As Bobo's been raised by wolves, though, his demeanor is initially that of a wild animal (ie he pees outdoors, next to a tree). This causes no end of consternation for Bobo's brother, Reggie (Christopher Lloyd), who was to receive his share of a very large inheritance but now must trick Bobo into signing away his rights to the money.
Walk Like a Man's been directed by Melvin Frank, who films the movie as though it were a low-budget Canadian made-for-TV production. There isn't an ounce of style to be found here, though this isn't exactly the sort of film that's crying out for Scorsese-esque camerawork. That kind of simplicity extends to the screenplay, which is packed with obvious jokes and over-the-top characterizations - though this complaint is kind of irrelevant, when you consider the film's out-there storyline. Still, the whole thing seems aimed solely at small children (how many kids have dreamed about acting like a dog at a fancy dinner party?)
There's one effective sequence in the film featuring Bobo and Penny (who's been hired to teach Bobo how to behave normally) taking a trip to a nearby mall. Bobo's fish-out-of-water antics (ie his encounter with an escalator) are the sort that should have been peppered throughout the film, instead of the countless scenes in which Bobo learns how to write his name, etc. Mandel is admittedly good in the role, though that's primarily because it requires him to rely on physical comedy (one gets the feeling that's the realm he's most comfortable in). Lloyd seems to be having fun playing a moustache-twirling bad guy, while '80s scream queen Steel is effective as Bobo's love interest.
It's hard to imagine anyone over a certain age (say, 10) watching Walk Like a Man and coming away feeling thoroughly entertained.