Men at Work (1990)
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Another true highlight is Keith David. This is, without a doubt, his finest performance captured on film. Playing the rough boss's brother-in-law Louis, who is employed to keep a watch on the mischevious garbagemen pals, David is just perfect. Hearing him lecture about "another man's fries", his Vietnam days "in the jungle", and his speech to the cops are just all priceless moments. It's one of the funniest marriages of actor and role - and Mr. David just plays it all so well. Watch him snap at the pizza man who's "seen too much."
All in all, "Men at Work" is a delightful, crowd-pleasing comedy that is able to make me laugh far more than the types of films that are heralded as "excellent comedies" like "Dr. Strangelove" and "Annie Hall." Give me this any day.
And Charlie, you may put this down...but in all honesty, this is your finest work to date, even ahead of comedic roles in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" and the two very good "Major League" movies. It's lightyears better than the low points of "Spin City", too.
"Men at Work" is highly recommended, and is one of many films on IMDb whose low rating you can completely disregard. Or don't disregard it, but then you'll just be even more pleasantly surprised by the ensuing hilarity.
Estevez and Charlie Sheen play two garbagemen who stumble upon a plan by Maxwell Potterdam III (John Getz) that involves dumping hazardous waste into nearby harbors, thus destroying the underwater environment in their area. The city councilmen is also involved in this scheme.
However, this is all a loose plot for the hilarious shenanigans that ensue with Carl and James (Sheen and Estevez), their "observer", Louis (Keith David), and a couple of unlucky cops.
Keith David comes close to stealing the show from Estevez and Sheen with his character of Louis, a Vietnam vet who still suffers from a bit of shellshock. He sees everything through the eyes of war, and this makes for some hilarious sequences, particularly when the friendly pizza delivery man is kidnapped.
All in all, this is mindless, but funny entertainment. It is funnier than 90% of the comedies made these days, and many have never seen or heard of this film.
It should be noted that the VHS tape is out of print (although Amazon.com did release it as an "Amazon Exclusive", but it is now on special order). It can still be found at some rental locations, but has also yet to be released on DVD (I believe MGM has the rights to the film, but I'm not positive). Here's to hoping we see a DVD sometime soon!
The montage scenes are great, flying dustbin lids etc, and the other characters are funny, comedy mafia goons, rival binmen, a shouty boss, a meek pizza delivery boy and the obligatory vietnam vet providing laughs as their loco supervisor. They don't make montage scenes like they used. The dream of a sequel still lives on, if you will it it is no dream.
**** / *****
Men At Work is a comedy classic.
You're probably ready to shoot me with a gun marked common sense, but no, this is really something else. Men At Work is the last in a long line of midnight movies that were released heavily in the 80's(i.e. Weird Science, Little Monsters, etc.) The formula of taking one situation and going over the top with everything, on an extravagant night when everyone else is asleep is a midnight movie. This just happens to involve toxic waste, which must have been a big deal in the eighties, because now, it's only packed with action figures.
Anyway, it's a classic and stands out because it's just fun. The directing by Estevez isn't bad and it's also got some funny situations. The acting is what it's supposed to be, low key, but fun.
Just imagine Double Dragon, but as garbage men.
It's an oddity to see the brothers working together in a movie written and directed by Emilio Estevez. It tries to be funny but the writing is not there. There are a couple of slightly wacky characters with a few funny lines. It could have worked if either brother put in an outrageous performance. When the jokes on the page aren't good enough, a special kind of performer is needed to make up the jokes on the fly. It has a couple of moments but there are not enough of them to be truly funny.
It's simply a comedy that doesn't get its fat ass off the ground, so why waste your time?
The entire cast is uninspired and unfunny, never managing to raise a laugh, and barely coaxing a smile from their audience. Do yourself a favour and leave this one on the video shelf.
Thursday, June 25, 1992 - Video
This film is dreadful, and it shows its age. In fact, it looks older than it is: more like a mid-80s moronic comedy. Whilst I am a fan of toilet humour and can see the funny side of many things, this is "comedy" at its most puerile and homophobic. The plot is as thin as a Supermodel, which wouldn't bother me if only the film were funny.
There is only one amusing line in the whole film, spoken by the character Louis: "Looks like somebody threw away a perfectly good white boy!" In fact, Louis is the only likable character (and that's not saying much). James and Carl are the type of irritating, immature men that a sensible woman would run a mile from, their practical jokes about as humorous as the war in Iraq; the character of Susan Wilkins is colourless (looks like Julia Roberts, but lacks her charisma) and there is zero chemistry between her and Carl - though it may be unfair to blame the actress, as I don't know what she could have done with such a poorly written part; and the villain is neither funny nor scary nor memorable.
There is good trash and bad trash. This is trash that definitely should not be recycled.
Undemanding picture that's more enjoyable if you happen to be a fan of either Sheen or Estevez, Men at Work often struggles for laughs but is intermittently lit up by the odd humorous moment that comes with a side order of cool. There's a little drama in the mix, and even a delicate hint of social commentary via the illegal toxic waste dumping core that the frivolity is wrapped around. But really this is all about the two Brat Packers running free and Keith David superbly stealing the movie from the both of them. When the "we got a dead body to keep from the cops" comedy runs out of steam, and it does a little too early in the piece, it's left to David to bring the laughs with his cop hating rants and coiled spring like intensity ready to unleash on anyone who gets in the way or dares to eat his fries. Hope is amiable and pretty, though she only serves as a love interest for Sheen, while Getz isn't in it much and the two hit men on the boys tail don't bring anything new to that well trodden comedy table.
When it hits its comedy stride, the funny sequences that drop in are just that, funny (golf clap, the nasty, human waste exploding balloons, Keith David), but these moments only serve to highlight the scripts shortcomings elsewhere. 6/10
There's many funny moments, including one where the two of them are hanging off the back doors of a truck. It's not a very smart comedy, but it's damn entertaining. Emilio shows his talent behind the camera as well. And I liked hearing that song "Pump Up the Jam," which I haven't heard in a while. The plot is predictable and nothing special. Basically, you gotta be in it for the laughs and the fun.
My score: 7 (out of 10)
To paraphrase, two garbagemen--James (Emilio Estevez) and Carl--are in dire straits. Few films had tackled the plight of American garbagemen before 1990. And after this movie, there is really no need, because never has "the job" been portrayed so accurately on the silver screen. In supporting roles, Leslie Hope and Keith David are spectacularific; never again would they get roles that afforded them such creative balance in the rest of their careers.
The deeper social message is further conveyed when brothers Carl and James find the body of a politician in the trash in a scene that though today might seem tame, was in 1990 (and pre-Sept 11) a very daring and controversial move by director (and star) Estevez. Also, there is the evil corporate powers that want to dump toxic waste into the Pacific Ocean. These scenes are really where the movie shines, making it the most thought-provoking examination of environmental issues since Frogs (1972).
When I first saw this movie a few years ago, I knew there was something special in the chemistry between Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez. Later that year, by the water-cooler at my office, a co-worker informed me that the two actors are in fact brothers! Wow, I thought and moments later said. You will express similar amazement at this "awesome" film, which I give **** (four stars). I only hope that, like the Incredible String Band, this movie will someday get the appreciation it never recieved in its own time.