Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Film Review: MEN AT WORK (1990, Emilio Estevez)

Stars: 3 of 5.
Running Time: 98 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Emilio Estevez, Charlie Sheen, Keith David (THEY LIVE, THE THING), Sy Richardson (STRAIGHT TO HELL, REPO MAN), Dean Cameron (SUMMER SCHOOL, HIGHBALL, ROCKULA), John Getz (THE FLY), Leslie Hope (TALK RADIO, BRUISER, 24). Score by Stewart Copeland (DEAD LIKE ME, WALL STREET, former drummer of The Police).
Tag-line: "Two garbagemen who know when something smells funny!"
Best one-liner: "There are several sacred things in this world that you don't ever mess with. One of them happens to be another man's fries. Now, you remember that, and you will live a long and healthy life." or "Looks like somebody threw away a perfectly good white boy!"

Written and directed by American auteur Emilio Estevez (WISDOM, RATED X), we're afforded a glimpse of his inner workings, his deepest fears, his secret longings. What lies behind those furtive eyes and Brat Pack-y façade?

What does the soul of Emilio Estevez look like? Well, after seeing MEN AT WORK, I have to say that Estevez's soul looks a whole lot like WEEKEND AT BERNIE'S with a healthy sprinkling of the Looney Tunes. The fourth of seven collaborations between Estevez and his brother Charlie Sheen, this film is about as unoriginal as they come.

It even steals its best one-liner from BETTER OFF DEAD. Let me break down the vital statistics: Number of men shot in the buttocks with a BB gun: 2. Number of trash can lid high-fives: 3.

Number of pranks involving exploding feces: 2. I lost track of the number of stylin' stud earrings, mini-ponytails, and Richard Nixon references.

Note stylin' stud earring.

Estevez and Sheen have raided elements from their previous films [a score by Police drummer Stewart Copeland (WALL STREET), performances by Sy Richardson (REPO MAN) and Keith David (PLATOON), a loving presentation of trucks (MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE), etc.], so it’s enjoyable enough. In fact, I’d say that 99% of MEN AT WORK’s success belongs to Keith David. While Estevez and Sheen are preening for the camera, making sure that they’re the prettiest garbagemen in filmdom, Keith David strolls in- natural, intense, and committed:

A lot of people erroneously believe that Keith David only plays 'pissed-off' roles. Well, in reality, Keith David only plays REALLY pissed-off roles.

He takes the one-dimensional ‘Nam vet who hates cops,’ and gives it depth, clarity, and character. At one point, Keith turns to the camera, breaks the fourth wall, and announces:


While Emilio’s film was not exactly a box-office smash, one fan liked it so much, she MARRIED him. A little lady by the name of…Paula Abdul.

But that’s another story, for another time.

Three stars- and a hearty, insincere golf clap- for the apparent inventors of the golf clap. I wonder how they'd react today, knowing that their own acrimonious comedy-weapon has been turned against them?

-Sean Gill


J.D. said...

Yeah, this one's a guilty pleasure for my wife but I still can't get into it... much to her chagrin.

Still, you can't go wrong with Keith David. The man was in THE THING and THEY LIVE fer chrissakes!

GuyR said...

And he's in the Princess and the Frog, too!

Sean Gill said...

Keith David just swoops in and saves movies from themselves, I guess. Maybe Carpenter needs to reconnect with the man (and Russell, too, for godssakes).