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Review: MEN AT WORK (1990)

by Meredith Grau
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Best Bad Quote:
“Extra chees’……..”
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I think we can all agree that there are too few films available in the “Garbage Man” genre. There’s the melodramatic brother-bagger opus of Dominick and Eugene with Ray Liotta and Tom Hulce in landmark performances, [uncomfortable pause], and then there’s the opposite side of the coin: The Garbage Pail Kids. (I mean, in this case, the major players are actually secret fashion designers and not trash collectors, but they live in cans, so…). Somewhere between these two pinnacle films, you will find the equally iconic Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez tag-team. They may have different last names, but it’s all relative, yo’, and families that play together, pick up trash together. Or something. Next paragraph:
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Truly, you gotta hand it to these guys. They have a pretty impressive combined filmography, including many of the backbone films of Gen WHY– those of us hovering between the X and Y, because we ask the BIG questions. They have performed in The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, The Outsiders, Platoon, The Mighty Ducks, Major League, Young Guns, Wall Street, et ceter-awesome. Of course, there are the hiccups. Who can forget Charlie’s “winning,” coke-addled Goddess interviews or Emilio’s directorial effort, Bobby, in which he pointed a camera at Lindsay Lohan on purpose and acted like it was okay.                                                    <—- I gave you that time to quell your angry regurge’ urge.
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Anywhoodle, when you put these two guys together, it’s a rollicking good time, because despite their Hollywood royalty status, they have pretty sweet, self-effacing senses of humor, and their uncanny chemistry works well onscreen. Not only are they brothers, but they’re bros. In this film, Charlie plays a grungy Lothario in disguise with an overgrown boy’s wayward sophistication, and Emilio is a pint-sized, short-tempered, and unpredictable crazy face, which is just they way we like him. The plot is goofy, and the story need not ever have been told, but its absurd ambivalence is still strangely entertaining, if only for nostalgic purposes. Also, Chainsaw from Summer School makes an appearance, as does badass Keith David. It basically makes for lazy weekend, mentally unchallenging, channel-flipping fun. What have you got to lose? Between garbage men or reality show garbage, the answer is simple.
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The plot follows the trash collecting duo Carl (Sheen) and James (Estevez) who spend their time bowling in the street, surfing the waves, spying on their neighbors and occasionally shooting them with BB-guns. One particular hottie across the street, Susan (Leslie Wilkins), catches Carl’s eye, and while observing her daily ritual, he comes to dislike the way her verbally abusive boyfriend treats her. So, he pops a pellet in his keister. What he and James don’t see– after they crumple to the ground in manic giggles– is the poor butt-bruised dude immediately thereafter getting “murked” by random thugs. The next day, the dead guy appears in one of the garbage pails on their route. Uh oh. Now, Carl and James are mixed up in all kinds of raucous shenanigans– kidnapping pizza boys and tying pesky local cops in their tight-whities to the merry-go-round– all in the name of justice. But can they get to the truth of the murder without getting killed themselves??? [Pensive face]. No, don’t think that hard. It’s Weekend at Bernie’s meets… Goodfellas. Meets The Garbage Picking Field Goal Kicking Philadelphia Phenomenon(What?! Tony Danza, I’m coming for you, man)!
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Men at Work is one of those ridiculous, nonsensical wonders that you kinda like but don’t really know why. It’s dumb. It’s random. There is no reason for its presence in the lexicon of cinematic history. However, the appeal of a weird, WTF movie is often just what makes it stand the test of time, (at least until everyone who remembers it’s initial release dies. #GenerationRIP). If nothing else, these ‘men at work’ will prompt you to view your local garbage men a little differently. They clean up nice, they are romantics who make excellent lovers, and they have surprisingly expensive apartments and oodles of personal ambition to boot. So, stop judging. See how they other half lives and have a little respect. The true day laborer is deep, loyal, down, and dirty. Disagree and they WILL put exploding bags of sh*t in your locker.
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Rating:
3 out of 5 Golf Claps
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