It's hard to waste Tommy Lee Jones, $40 million, and filmic use of the University of Texas grounds and insignia, but Man of the House (rated PG-13 for violence, sexual content, crude humor, and a drug reference) does so. The few good parts are in the appealing commercial for the film; don't waste your time going to see the rest unless you're from Austin and want to see glimpses of Threadgill's, Buffalo Billiards, and other city landmarks.
Mr. Jones in his familiar role as a craggy-faced, no-nonsense guy does well as always, but if the director and screenwriter work again they will be fugitives from justice. The storyline has Texas Ranger Jones posing as an assistant cheerleading coach so as to guard five University of Texas cheerleaders who witnessed, more or less, a murder. (It's mostly less, because while they can't agree about the killer's height or almost anything else, they all say he has bad hair.) His big achievement is getting the cheerleaders to cover their navels by installing a $7,000 air conditioner that freezes them into compliance.
Other silly scenes include the cheerleaders giving Ranger Jones a makeover that includes a facial mask, cucumber slices over the eyes, and the cutting of nose hairs. (Shouldn't a close-up of the inside of a nose warrant this film an R rating?) At least the film has the decency not to have Mr. Jones become sexually involved with a dim bulb cheerleader who develops a crush on him. Instead, he improbably dates an English professor played by Anne Archer, who elegantly eschews botox and lets her crows-feet march to the sea.