Tin Meni shines through the characters it creates. You'll find here none of the overdone, thick factitiousness, none of the color-by-the-numbers schematism so fashionable with and so typical of an illiterate public. Dreyfuss' intelligent, neurotic narcisiac stands as a living and breathing, credible slice of life. DeVito's charismatic, epicurean narcisiac also stands as a living and breathing, credible slice of life. Unless you were born after the Internet, unless you've never had a life to know what you're missing, you've known these people. You must've.
Between the two offerings of ultimately self-same. self-absorbed, immature manhood, Hershey's desperate, loving yet frustrated would-be mother futilely seeks her happiness while wondering what about her attracts tin men. She's the sort of woman that leads "how can I help" into the other's "I have a problem". Straight up, just like that. She's the sort of gal that says nothing much about coming back home after a romp only to find all her stuff scattered on the front lawn, nor about the dude that did it wanting to keep decorum later on. Not even about that same dude managing to get himself sealed out of their house by the IRS, or about not remembering the footstool that's been in her family for more than three generations left behind in there, except on the second pass.
It doesn't stop there, either. Levinson doesn't merely eschew the usual made-in-America idiocy when it comes to the two leading tin men. The supporting cast are equally well crafted, most notably of which the boss. You know, what you'd expect as the stock character of "ruthless capitalist", dressed to the nines and with "strictly business" on his lips - except here he makes sense. Not in the sense that you can, with some effort, understand what he's all about. In the sense that it's fucking obvious what he's on about before he's even on about it. Listen :
Masters was gonna take this company apart. You're the low man on the totem pole, Tilley. There's a lot of guys earning a good living... no sense for it all to go up in smoke. You understand, don't you, Tilley? It's just business.
He's fundamentally decent - because yes, ruthless capitalism IS being fundamentally decent, that's what the fucking words mean, as illustrated quite well in another Dany DeVito movie : Other People's Money. Yes, I am aware that you're so used to hearing the thieves scream thief! and the sociopaths scream sociopath! while pointing fingers at the wall, the sky, a passing butterfly and anything - anything whatsoever just as long as it's not themselves - that you might be a little confused. Nevertheless... no ammount of energy expended in pointing and screaming will change wolves into sheep or anything of that kind.
There's probably a few better films you could watch instead of Tin Men. There's certainly a boatload of much, much worse films you could be watching, also.———
- 1987, by Barry Levinson, with Richard Dreyfuss, Danny DeVito and Barbara Hershey. [↩]