Thursday, 18 February 2016

FORGOTTEN COMEDY FLICKS - REAL MEN

Agent Pillbox walks through the forest, a map in one hand, a glass of water in the other. The Glass bears the Presidential seal. He's shot!. It must be an inside job, so the Director sends in Agent Pirandello (James Belushi)...
Nick Pirandello's the best agent in the CIA; James Bond with street-smarts. Tricking his way to the map, he takes on hordes of Russian agents, taking them out with incredible pistol shooting, trickery and a naked girl. Half the CIA are working for the other side, so his boss, Millard Cunard (Bill Morey) gives him an assignment; put a lookalike for Pillbox in for the exchange. The man the computer selected needs his confidence building if he's to make the drop by Friday!.
Bob Wilson (John Ritter) is a feeble, meek man. When his kid's bike is stolen by the losers down the block, they offer to sell it back to him before roughing him up. He's a wimp. Even the milkman keeps winking at him. Later that night he's awoken by Pirandello in his garage. Russians are coming, so the CIA man makes a machine pistol out of everyday items, takes out the bad-guys and then pretends it was all Wilson's doing, despite Bob being worse than useless. They've got a week to get to DC, via the scenic route.

Vegas, Tuesday; hilariously, Bob's family have been told he's in a mental hospital after a 'terrorist attack.' He keeps trying to run away from Pirandello, who's always a step ahead; when he learns the Government is negotiating with UFO's he's even more convinced the guy's a madman. Pirandello shows him a cheap plastic pen as proof; banging it through a baseball to show it still writes. That doesn't do it, but when the pen levitates, lights up and flies back to the Alien galaxy he's convinced.

Another team of Russians turn up and attack; the good guys take cover in an empty house. The Russians send in their top negotiator, Dolly, a stunning woman. If Nick turns he'll be a Colonel in the KGB (With hindsight perhaps not the best deal) with $1Million. All he has to do is hand over the map and kill Bob. They retire to the bedroom to confer. Ever conferred in a bedroom?. Dolly gives Nick a tip (seems fair, considering); his shares are worthless, a source in the White House told her. Anyway; no deal!. Shooting his way out, Nick makes for a phonebox and calls... his broker. The bullets stop. Why?. It's lunchtime – the Russians aren't as motivated as our side!. Goofy.
During the ceasefire Nick and Bob escape. Bob demands to know what the exchange is. Apparently the Chemical warfare guys messed up, and the planet is slowly dying. The UFO people will give us a 'Good Package' including a formula to reverse this. All they want in return is a glass of water!. Nick takes Bob to his Mother's place; apparently Dad is home from the hospital and Nick's Aunt has stopped by. Left alone, Bob encounters a stunning older lady who tries to seduce him. It turns out this is Nick's dad after a sex-change!. (Nick's 'Father' is played by exploitation legend Dyanne Thorne of 'Ilsa' notoriety.) Borrowing the family Impala, the journey continues.

New Mexico, Wednesday; after a funny gag about Supermarket Tabloids full of classified information (Years before Men in Black used the same joke). Bob does a runner again, but realises he has the vital map and runs back; the Chevy's gone!. Nick hid it and gets a dressing down – Bob is clearly gaining in confidence.
Indianapolis, Thursday; Picking up the special glass with it's Presidential seal isn't as easy as you'd think. Clown attack!. CIA agents gone bad in clown suits, no less. Have I used the word 'goofy?' already?. Cornered, in tears, Bob falls for a line about being a Russian superspy hypnotised to forget. He goes charging in... to a right and goes down, leaving Nick to drop the clowns. As Bob wakes up, Nick feeds him some bravo-sierra about having knocked them all out single handed, reveals the Russian superspy bit was a trick to build his confidence. It's worked; as one of the clowns comes to, Bob drops him with a roundhouse.

Pittsburg, Thursday night. Stopping at a bar so Nick can get laid, Bob decides to test his new-found confidence by picking on a pair of gorillas. Amusingly his steely eyes and demeanour works and they leave. Nick, meanwhile has found a meek, bespectacled girl and picks her up. Following her to her place, he leaves Bob in the Chevy, promising to be back as soon as he can. There's a burglary going on across the street, which Bob investigates while Nick's date turns out to be a whip-wielding dominatrix. Tying him into a bondage frame she whips and spins him around while, outside Bob takes out the trash.

Friday morning and Bob has to put up with the new Nick, suddenly all caring and considerate. He blows his stack when Nick wants off the mission, talking him round. Stopping for supplies, Bob finds Nick Pirandello gone; he's left a note saying he loves her.

Washington, DC; Friday. Bob Wilson is a man on a mission. Following the map into a park, he almost shoots a genuine clown by mistake. Fumbling to load the pistol he found in Nick's Mum's car he gets a shock as Nick shows up. The bad guys show, too, blasting away at the good guys. Agent Mahoney appears to back up our boys, but is shot. Another dazzling display of pistol work by Pirandello sorts them. Bob has the glass, but where's the water?. In a water dispenser of course, hidden inside a hollowed-out tree.
Heading towards the rendezvous, a shot rings out. Millard Cunard has gone bad!. Ordering them to toss their guns he orders Bob to walk out there and ask the Aliens for the 'Big Gun' – a device that will destroy the World. Bob refuses, despite the threat to shoot Nick. With no way out, Bob makes a gun with his fingers just as the wounded Mahoney crawls up and shoots Cunard.

The rendezvous!. A light shines down from above and an Alien appears (Played by Don Dolan). Do we want the Big Gun or the Good Package?. Bob goes for the latter and exchanges the glass for it. The Aliens got the baseball Nick sent and are learning the game. The spaceman gives Bob a pen, plus Nick's back, then leaves in his ship.

A banner; 'Welcome Home Dad'. A Presidential Limo, complete with Secret Service men pulls up at the Wilson home. Bob is home; the house has been repaired and looks great. Alone with his wife (Isabella Hofmann) he asks about the milkman; he's been coming round daily, pestering her. Going over to the losers, Bob gets his kid's bike back and works the punks over. Nick arrives and tells Bob's kids their Dad's quite a guy. He's off to develop a meaningful relationship with his girl, who shows up overhead flying a chopper dangling a rope ladder. As Nick is hoisted aloft he waves goodbye. Whistling, the Milkman makes his delivery, walking right into one of Bob's. As he k.o.'s him he tells him to try to be more sensitive... THE END.
Real Men came out in 1987; it's screwy, goofball and largely forgotten now. James Belushi's character is at times overplayed, sometimes irritating. Ritter plays it straight until his confidence overtakes the part; it's all a little laboured and heavy-handed. HOWEVER: I loved this film when it came out on VHS in 1890 at Ye Olde Video Shoppe; it made me laugh then and now. It's not Neighbors, or even K-9, but it's well worth the search.

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