Over the next few weeks, I’ll be continuing my series on old-school movies, on Netflix. Tonight’s choice, Renaissance Man, starring Danny DeVito and released in 1994.
This film, directed by Penny Marshall, is one of those “feel good” types, which I’m usually not partial to. In this case, though, it’s sufficiently dramatic and has enough of a comic edge to have captured me and kept me watching straight through.
Danny DeVito headlines as Bill Rago, a former advertising guru who has lost his job and been appointed to a position where he is charged with teaching underachieving Army recruits. DeVito is supported by a cast featuring Lillo Brancato, Gregory Hines, Stacy Dash (oh, Stacy…what you do to me), Kadeem Hardison, Mark Wahlberg and Richard T. Jones as the “Double-D Squad” (Double-D being short for “Dumb-as-dogshit”) who are sent to Rago’s class to learn “basic comprehension”.
Basically, they’re a pack of dip-shits who need to learn how to utilize critical thinking and logic in their day-to-day grind, lest they get booted out of the Army for failing at life.
The classes, naturally, start out pretty rough with Bill, in his first ever teaching assignment, having a lot of difficulty connecting with the Double-D’s. Enter: Shakespeare – Good old Billy Shakes comes along to save the day and give Rago a hand at capturing the students’ interest.
Over the course of the 2 hour and 8 minute run time we see the Double-D’s, as well as Mr. Rago develop and grow in to their positions through all of the ups and downs of mixing remedial coursework with military basic training. Of course, various forms of comedy ensue as the movie unfolds at a very captivating pace.
I’m not going to spoil the ending but I will say that it was a satisfying conclusion to a good story and I have no problem giving this film a glowing recommendation. If you have a couple of hours and you want to catch a good flick then, by all means, give this one a look. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.
Until next time!