James Belushi (K-9: P.I.Joe Somebody) and John Ritter ("Eight Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daugter") push the comic envelope in this "genuinely off-the-wall comedy" (The Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy Film Review) about an improbable mission between the CIA, the KGB, and of course, visitors from another planet!
The fate of the entire world lies in the hands of a brilliant, charming cad of a secret agent named Nick Pirandello (Belushi), who has to barter for global salvation with aliens seeking a highly secret glass...of water! Dire circumstances force Nick to recruit naive, insevure insurance agent Bob Wilson (Ritter) as his partner, making his precarious predicament downright preposterous, as their insane mission becomes not only extra dangerous, but entirely extraterrestrial!
I don't envy anyone who writes, acts, or directs comedy for a living. Having taken a stab or two at it myself while in school, it's a lot harder to be funny than it looks. Sometimes if you're working with natural talent and the jokes are landing, the material has a way of becoming cinematic gold. If the jokes are forced and the humor becomes trite and the scenario just isn't all that funny, then the material becomes a slog to sit through. When you have a movie starring James Belushi and John Ritter one would think there'd be a decent laugh to be had, sadly for 'Real Men' the humor never finds its tempo as the jokes are shoehorned around a ludicrous plot.
Nick Pirandello (James Belushi) is the CIA's most successful, highly-trained agent in the field. It just so happens he's also their most unscrupulous and uncontrollable. He has a particular way of getting things done that is a bit too unorthodox for the top brass to feel comfortable. After a botched mission leads to some sensitive information getting snatched, he's their only hope. The problem is the currier that was going to deliver the goods has been killed and they're going to need a ringer, someone who looks exactly like their slain agent. They're going to need Nick to find the right man for the job and bring him in.
Unfortunately for the CIA, National Security, and humanity as a whole, the only man in the country who looks anything like their fallen agent is Bob Wilson (John Ritter). Bob is an amiable non-confrontational sort of fellow who would rather use his nice words than his fists to get things done - including retrieving his family's stolen property from a neighbor. Nick has the seemingly impossible task of getting Bob from California to Washington DC for a very important meeting between the CIA, the KGB, and some aliens from outer space. These aliens are here to either help save humanity, or end it - and the whole deal depends on Bob Wilson stepping in for the fallen agent. At every turn Nick and Bob face insurmountable odds. If they're going to survive the journey and the alien encounter, they're going to need to work together rather than against each other. After all, the fate of the entire human race is depending on them!
It isn't long after 'Real Men' starts rolling that the word "misfire" comes to mind. This is one of those action adventure comedies that never finds its footing and struggles to tell something that even resembles a coherent story while it throws out jokes a mile a minute. Written and directed by Dennis Feldman of 'Species' and 'Virus' fame, 'Real Men' just feels like a confused movie that doesn't know what it wants to be. It would have been one thing to be about a crazy CIA agent who has to transport a cowardly everyman across the country, but then it adds in splinter groups within the government, the KGB, and then it tosses in the aliens. I get it that after 'E.T. The Extraterrestrial,' and 'Cocoon,' aliens were a convenient and fun story trope, but this movie should have looked at 'Meatballs Part II' and skipped that aspect.
While James Belushi and John Ritter are doing their best and they do have some decent moments together, the whole situation they find themselves in feels half-baked. The one chuckle-inducing moment comes early when Belushi's Nick builds an automatic nail gun inside of a couple minutes MacGyver-style to fend off some rogue agents. Sadly that joke came in at roughly the 19 minute mark - there was still another 65 painful minutes to go. Had this movie waited a year to be released, it could have taken some notes from a solid travel movie the likes of 'Midnight Run' and smoothed out the material before going in front of cameras.
I tend to give most movies a lot of rope. Having gone through film school and worked on a couple independent projects with friends, I get it that it's not easy task to pull a feature length movie together. in the case of 'Real Men,' that extra rope I gave ended up hanging me. I downed an entire pot of coffee trying to get through this movie without hitting the fast forward button or pulling out my phone in a desperate bid to distract myself. Which is a shame. When I got this disc and read the synopsis and the cast list I was actually genuinely excited to give this one a go. I love 80s comedies and the more ridiculous they are the better. Sadly the gelatin in this movie didn't turn into Jell-O, it wound up being a sloppy mess that goes no where interesting very fast.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Real Men' arrives on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber and their Studio Classic's line. Pressed on a Region A locked BD25 disc and housed in a standard case, the disc opens directly to the main menu.
Considering the near 30 year age of the film, 'Real Men' makes for a halfway decent HD debut on Blu-ray. With film grain retained, the image has some nice and natural feeling detail levels. Black levels are actually pretty decent allowing for a nice sense of depth and color replication is solid over all. Flesh tones can be a bit too pink some times, but over all they're stable.The main problem with this transfer is the print wear and tear. There is a lot of speckling on display here, almost constant in fact. There are also a number of dirty splotches on the print and several hairs pop up around the screen to say "Hello!" Additionally there are a couple severe vertical scratches - thankfully they're during the darker moments so they're easily hidden - but they're still there and noticeable. Over all this transfer works but it is pretty rough.
While the video for 'Real Men' is pretty decent, the DTS-HD MA 2.0 audio mix leaves a lot to be desired. On the plus side of things the track is free of any age related anomalies like hiss or drop offs, but the whole thing sounds very flat and lifeless. Part of the issue is that this movie sounds almost completely looped in post. Everything has a very "dubbed" tone to it like there aren't any genuine scene sound recordings. Thankfully there isn't any kind of rubber mouth effect happening, but when you have a movie where your two leads banter to the point of excess, it'd help if it sounded like they were in the same room together. Sadly the sound effects and ambient noises have the same issues - guns, foot falls, explosions - everything sounds pitched just a tad too high and they sound very tinny and canned.
Trailer: (SD 1:27) If you want a sense of how awkward and unfunny the entirety of the movie is, watch this 90 second trailer
'Real Men' is one of those movies with a solid concept and a kooky twist that sadly just did not come together. One of my favorite 'Flying Circus' sketches is with a movie producer with a boardroom of "yes men" who all love his ideas no matter how bad they are. 'Real Men' feels like it was thought up by that character played by Graham Chapman and no one had the guts to tell him it was a bad idea. With a decent video transfer, a serviceable audio mix, and only a trailer for an extra, I'm calling this one for fans only. Maybe it just wasn't my kind of movie, but I can see this Blu-ray appealing only to a select few.