You certainly remember gny sgt Harman from Full Metal Jacket. Welll, Bill Rago, DeVito's character in The Renaissance Mani is the exact equivalent. An out of work "creative" with a Master's degree (which means he theoretically could teach, mind) ends up with a class of eight kids a military base judged as intellectually marginal. So his job is to teach them to comprehend!
DeVito is an exceptional actor, his character is not yet another "method" concoction consisting of thin plastic wrap on top of nothing at all. Bill Rago makes sense, into fine detail, and is constructed in such a manner as to not insult either the world or the gods. You might not necessarily agree, which is fine, you may think he picks wrong or suboptimal paths, which is to be expected, but you will not be saying to yourself "this is bullshit" under any angle, because it isn't. Rago is credible, and that's all that matters.
Jenifer Lewis is absolutely endearing. For all the yak about "women's movement", "progress", "critique" and this or that, it would nevertheless seem the age of genuinely empowered, self-contained and actually independent women has somehow ended in the 90s. Here's a hint : the neurotic babies being pushed today not only fail to convince anyone, but visibly and in point of fact have all the endurance of campaign materials for yesterday's election after a good night of rain. Study Mrs. Coleman, because that Carry Bradshaw hand puppet is barely an adequate model for geese.
Stacey Dash is pretty hot, in a discrete sort of way (wow, fancy that). This being yet another thing this film gets right - you can't have cinema without sex, but finding the right sex for a movie is always a challenge. Usually the director fails and then conveniently blames it on "mores" and "censorship", which is lame. This time the director succeeds.
Definitely must see.———
- 1994, by Penny Marshall, with Danny DeVito, Stacey Dash, Jenifer Lewis. [↩]