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Real Men

Director: Dennis Feldman

US - 1987



I have never been a huge John Ritter fan.  “Three’s Company” is good for a few yucks, and Sling Blade is decent enough, but neither made me a real John Ritter aficionado.  I am, however, a big fan of the film Real Men.  I’ve championed this movie for quite some time, which is not an easy task.  More often than not, Spiderman.people lose interest as soon as I mention the two leads (the other being James Belushi).  Though it’s discouraging, I do understand where they’re coming from.  Like I said, I’m not a John Ritter fan, but I don’t dislike the guy.  James Belushi, on the other hand, really annoys me.  If I see his name on a DVD cover or movie poster (When was the last time James Belushi’s name was on a movie poster?), it’s definitely a strike against me seeing said film.  So, like I said, Real Men is a hard sell - but doggonit, it really is a funny movie. 

James Belushi plays Nick Pirandello, a wise-cracking secret agent (is there any other kind?).  Nick’s mission is to rendezvous with a group of aliens the gActing.overnment was been negotiating with for many years.  In exchange for a glass of water (must be one of those “They Are Far More Enlightened Than Us” kinda things), the aliens have agreed to give us “The Good Package.”  Sadly, “The Good Package” has nothing to do with John Holmes.  Apparently, it’s a blueprint for peace, love, harmony and all that other crap only people in the movies actually care about.  The other option was “The Big Gun,” which I believe to be self-explanatory.  Another agent, Pilbox, was originally supposed to make the rendezvous.  Unfortunately, Pilbox was gunned-down by a rival spy faction determined to acquire “The Big Gun.”  Now they need to find a chump who looks like Pilbox to fill in (For some unknown reason, onlySmug. Pilbox will do).  They need a guy who is quick, savvy and will sneer in the face of danger.  What they get is Bob Wilson.      

John Ritter plays Bob, a straight-laced suburbanite with a wife and family.  Life for Bob consists of a white-collar job, children who don’t respect him, a wife that might be cheating on him, and neighborhood bullies that belittle him.  Bob has absolutely nothing going for him, except for the fact that he looks exactly like the recently-deceased Pilbox.

Nick and Bob: Two men with two completely different lives.  Naturally, that means when their paths cross, wackiness must ensue.  Nick tries to recruit Bob, but Bob wants nothing to do with espionage.  But with the fate of the world hanging in the balance, Bob really has no choice but to tag along.  Said wackiness ensues during their cross-country trek to the rendezvous point, including (but not limited to):


Kung-Fu Clowns.  Here’s a tip to all future filmmakers: Putting clowns in your movie is always a good idea.  Funny clowns.  Sad clowns.  Kung-Fu Clowns.  Scary Clowns (Oh wait, that’s redundant, isn’t it?).  Simply put: Clowns make good cinema.  Clowns are not, however, to be confused with mimes.  Never put a mime in your movie.  Unless it involves a horrible death sequence.

- Through a series of wacky coincidences, Bob thinks that the aliens have turned his index finger into an actual gun.  If you don’t find John Ritter running around pointing at people while yelling “Bang!” is funny, then…most would probably tend to agree with you.


A Dominatrix.  James Belushi really gets his after he picks up from a bar what he thinks 
to be a shy schoolteacher. 

- At one point, Nick convinces Bob that he is actually a trained assassin who, at the mere mention of a specific code word, turns into a Human Killing Machine.  Naturally, this leads Bob to believe that he is a true bad-ass, and he then goes out of his way to pick fights at bars, interrupt robberies, and kick some Kung-Fu Clown ass.

Not kooky.

Cliché Soviets, complete with Hot Emotionless Russian Chick Who Negotiates With Sex.  To the film’s credit, the Soviets never once ask for anything resembling “zee micro-feelm.”


And finally, a kooky transsexual.

Now, hold on a second.  Real Solarbabies.Men is supposed to be a good film.  This sounds like crap!  I know, it does.  On paper, Real Men sounds like cinematic cyanide.  But in reality, the film is actually quite funny.  There’s a real chemistry between Belushi and Ritter.  Chemistry is not the kind of thing one can always predict.  One might assume that putting Jack Nicholson and Christopher Walken together would make for an interesting buddy-cop movie, but you wouldn’t really know until it actually materializes onscreen.  Who would’ve thought that two actors like John Ritter and Jim Belushi – not exactly huge box office draws - would click?  But click they do.  As a matter of fact, they click so well that one forgets the ineptitude that surrounds them.  This movie should suck on several levels, but it doesn’t. 

Real Men is simply a fun movie.  It’s not brilliant.  It has no scathing social commentary.  No one paid James Belushi five million dollars for a two-minute topless scene (But you’d pay to see it, wouldn’t you?).  It’s simply a fun movie. 

We’re supposed to have fun watching movies, right?  Sometimes I forget that.


Tango and Cash 2: In Da Hood


-- Copyright 2003, J. Bannerman



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