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ICYMI: Real Men (1987)


As a lifelong lover of film, I know have a tendency to get a bit snobbish when it comes to other people’s taste. I have been known to snicker and roll my eyes whenever I hear co-workers or total strangers in public discuss the kind of movies I wouldn’t see if I were getting paid to. The truth of the matter is that I can be just as goofy as the next person. And I don’t mean enjoying the comedic gold of Mel Brooks, or the brilliant satire of Zucker Abrams Zucker (Airplane, The Naked Gun) or the Austin Powers trilogy, I mean truly goofy.

Case in point: 1987’s Real Men. From writer-director Dennis Feldman, best known for writing Just One of the Guys, The Golden Child, and Species, comes a truly goofy film that took me a long time to admit that I love. The film stars Jim Belushi as a rogue CIA agent who has recruited John Ritter, an insurance agent who is a perfect double for a recently killed operative. The mission: travel cross-country to meet with aliens and exchange a glass of water for a scientific package that will save the Earth from imminent destruction. On their trail are traitorous US agents and the KGB, both groups who want the aliens’ other offer: a weapon that will destroy the planet known as “The Big Gun.” When Ritter questions the logic of requesting a weapon that will destroy the planet, Belushi casually explains well……logic does not exist in the world of Real Men.

While the film was largely ignored during it’s release, those that did pay attention dismissed the film as juvenile nonsense. I, on the other hand, found the film to be a charming send-up of science fiction, cold war dramas, and buddy flicks. Belushi and Ritter have surprising rapport and thankfully fully commit to the off-wall premise. Belushi handles the action with aplomb and Ritter reminds us of what a truly gifted comedic actor that he was. The film is silly, nonsensical, wacky and I enjoyed every one of its 87 minutes. The film’s highlights include:

  • An opening shootout that sees Belushi using his bootlaces as rope

  • Belushi making a machine gun out of Ritter’s tools

  • The bureaucratic ending to a shootout with Ruskies

  • Belushi and Ritter in hand-to-hand combat with the CIA’s “Clown Patrol”

  • Ritter getting much needed revenge on neighborhood bullies

The older I get, the more I realize there is nothing wrong with embracing my inner child and that which brought me joy as a youth. Real Men was a part of that youth. You may not get it, but I did. And when it comes to the movies that we enjoy, that is all that matters.

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