RENAISSANCE MAN (1994)

Renaissance_Man_1994_0

Directed By: Penny Marshall
Written By: Jim Buerstein
Cinematography: Adam Greenberg
Editor: George Bowers & Battle Davis 


Cast: Danny DeVito, Gregory Hines, Stacey Dash, Mark Wahlberg, Kadeem Hardison, Lilo Brancato, Khalil Kain, Ed Begley Jr., James Remar, Richard T. Jones, Cliff Robertson, Ann Cusack, Greg Sporleder, Alanna Ubach, Matt Kessler, Isabella Hoffman 


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!

Unfortunately a disposable film and waste of time for all involved. As this film. Feels like a movie that didn’t need to be made. As it is just a carbon copy of the teacher who makes a difference. Only here it involves military cadets and a teacher who is only doing it to keep himself off unemployment.

Now while Danny DeVito can be a charismatic actor he seems miscast here. He is ok yet he seems bored and seems to lack the energy to really make himself and the role come alive. Maybe that is why he was cast to make it seem more like an Everyman and not necessarily an entertaining comedic actor who will steal every scene with his humor. He is usually better st playing villains and foils. Here he comes off as mannered yet bland.

As the film never truly comes alive though there are moments that it does. The film stays more cute than anything approaching strong or believable.

The chemistry of the actors is the only thing that really works and comes off strong. Which mainly lands on the shoulders of the cast of misfit soldiers. Which is partly why the classroom scenes are fun.

The Shakespeare monologue scene at the night boot camp is riveting and one of the strongest scenes. The film does offer a breakdown of Shakespeare that might work in classes who watch this film. So there might be some kind of purpose for this film.

The film reeks of always trying to feel heartwarming. As it feels too clean and tidy. To occasionally tries to be dramatic and full of emotional moments.

The talent of Penny Marshall feels too obvious and great for this film. As it’s obvious she can and has done Better. As this film feels so formulaic and full of easy schmaltz and feel good moments. It doesn’t possess off beat spirit not discipline to register.

Obviously this is one of her lesser and more conventional films and it seems at the time in her career. She didn’t seem like she needed or had to make this film.

Maybe the films was seeking more ordinary guy who makes a difference here he didn’t expect to make one.

Mark Wahlberg’s First real acting role where he is more a supporting player with very few lines but his presence is in most scenes –The romantic angle here feels unneeded but here because it seems in these types of film of the character is single we must have one to spice things up.

Though the chemistry Danny Devito and Gregory Hines are good. But it never gets a chance to go anywhere.

Danny devito is a versatile and likeable actor but for the role here he feels miscast. As he can be funny and usually does well at playing more charismatic unlikeable characters but for this role he plays it too everyday and the film never feels as energetic as it should. That an actor such as Robin Williams might have bring to the role as they are both actors but Williams was also a comedian. An ability that no matter how in depth into a role a certain fun and childish ness is in there somewhere in the eyes or even in the physicality

The film begins to feel like PRIVATE BENJAMIN a little. As a fish out of water tale. Which then works in the politics and discipline of the armed forces and comes off as light recruitment.

It also feels more like the work of her brother Garry. As it is more crowd pleasing and comedic above all else.

All due respect to the late great Penny Marshall. As I enjoy most of her films and work. As she always seemed Down to earth and treated her filmmaking in the same way. Choosing to focus on the blue collar workers and way of life. So that her films always come off more as humanist. Bringing to life many unforgettable characters whose films will stand the test of time.

Grade: D+

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s