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Renaissance Man (1994)

PG-13  |   |  Comedy, Drama  |  3 June 1994 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.1/10 from 13,189 users   Metascore: 44/100
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A down-on-his-luck businessman desperately takes the only job offered - a teacher in the U.S. Army. His mission: keep a ragtag bunch of underachieving misfits from flunking out of basic ... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Pvt. Donnie Benitez (as Lillo Brancato Jr.)
Peter Simmons ...
Pvt. Brian Davis, Jr.
Pvt. Melvin (as Greg Sporleder)
Ben Wright ...
Private Oswald
Bill's Secretary


A down-on-his-luck businessman desperately takes the only job offered - a teacher in the U.S. Army. His mission: keep a ragtag bunch of underachieving misfits from flunking out of basic training! Be on alert as this unlikely new teacher and his underdog class unexpectedly inspire each other to be all they can be! Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


There's only one man big enough to take them on... See more »


Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

3 June 1994 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

By the Book  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$40,000,000 (estimated)


$24,332,324 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


About halfway through the movie, when Bill Rago (Danny DeVito) is in Col. James's (Cliff Robertson) office, you can see a red patch on the far right in the background. This is a Ragin' Bull Six patch from the United States Air Force Academy. See more »


The Silver Star medal is actually a small silver star inside of a large gold star, so at first glance, it would appear Pvt. Davis received the wrong medal, but his medal was was the actual Silver Star. See more »


[another recruit is trying to bang a rhythm on his desk]
Private Miranda Myers: Give him time, give him time. He's a white boy.
See more »


References Gomer Pyle: USMC (1964) See more »


Performed by The Double D's
See more »

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User Reviews

It just leaves me warm and shiny.
9 March 2008 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Renaissance Man is directed by Penny Marshall and stars Danny DeVito, Gregory Hines, James Remar, Mark Wahlberg, Stacey Dash and Kadeem Hardison. Hans Zimmer scores the film and it's written by Jim Burnstein. The story sees DeVito as Bill Rago, a divorced advertising executive who loses his job and finds himself unemployed. Not only that, but the relationship with his daughter has started to feel the financial strain. However, the unemployment agency find him a short time position at U.S. Army training base, Fort McClane. The position entails him to teach basic comprehension to a class of academic under achievers. Initially he's not enthused by the job, nor are the class particularly responsive to his civilian status. But just maybe this odd coupling may turn out to be good for both parties? That is if Drill Sergeant Cass (Hines) lets them that is?

A box office flop that was first marketed as a comedy, then as a drama {it's very much both}, Renaissance Man holds no surprises what so ever. The formula remains the same as every other piece featuring a teacher and an unruly/troubled/under educated class. So with that in mind, and considering the film has largely been kicked by the professional critics, I'm not here to sell this movie to anyone, because sometimes you have to acknowledge that a film can hit a spot of your own personal psyche, yet at the same time be a million miles away from someone else's.

The choices we make dictate the life we lead

For me personally, Renaissance Man is one such film. It was one dark rainy night back in the mid 90s and I had the blues, I popped over to the video store to see what was available, I couldn't find anything that remotely sounded like something to lift me out of the stupor I was in. I then spied a copy of Renaissance Man, a film I hadn't heard anything about, and although I took that as a bad sign, Danny DeVito's beaming smile on the cover of the box lured me in. I was thinking how much I had enjoyed him in Twins at the back end of 1988, so to me it didn't seem such a bad gamble to take. I was expecting a comedy and I got one, but the bonus was that what I also got was a very uplifting dramatic tale about the human condition, people learning from each other, a tale that shows the power of artistry and how it can unite and lift people. A tale that shows that maybe some folk aren't as clever as others, but if they can grasp a straw and be all that they can be, then their heads will be well and truly held up high.

Renaissance Man, I believe, is a sadly undervalued film on this, or any other film related site. But that's just me, because hey! We all got different psyche's right. Right? 8/10

22 of 22 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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