Men at Work Blu-ray Review: Put Away the Vegemite. It’s Not the Band from a Land Down Under

From writer-director Emilio Estevez comes Men at Work (1990), a misguided way to get him and his brother Charlie Sheen together again on film. This one is all over the place and it shows as the movie plays like an odd comic book mashup of Weekend At Bernie’s, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and an 8-bit Nintendo action/adventure game. I really don’t know what Emilio was thinking when he decided to make this one besides “I’m high and have a wacky idea that will co-star my brother Charlie” and he got Cary Elwes’ older brother Cassian to produce it.

Best friends Carl (Sheen) and James (Estevez) work as garbage men by day and dream of opening a surf shop while chasing girls by night. One such night, these two goofs find themselves in a heap of trouble after a hard day of fooling around, half-assing work, making lame jokes, and pranking colleagues. Carl, who likes to watch the people in the building across the street, sees a man assault a young lady much to his dismay.

What Carl actually witnesses is City Councilman Jack Berger (Darrell Larson) frantically looking for an incriminating tape recording of rich corporate bad guy Maxwell Potterdam III (John Getz) admitting to dumping toxic waste into the ocean. I’m not sure why but Potterdam reminds me of Dr. Claw from the Inspector Gadget cartoons. Anyway, the tape was grabbed accidentally by Carl’s neighbor Susan (Leslie Hope) and he can’t just sit back and do nothing as she’s manhandled. So he shoots Berger in the ass with a high-powered pellet gun. What Carl and James miss while hiding and downing beers is Berger being killed and carried away by Potterdam’s henchmen.

The next day at work with a ride-along escort named Louis (played wonderfully by Keith David), assigned because of the boys’ misconduct, they find Berger’s body in an oil drum. Together, they decide not to turn Berger’s body over to the cops but instead keep it around until they can prove Carl didn’t kill him with the ass shot. Later, back at Carl’s apartment along with Louis and a pizza guy they take hostage, they figure getting evidence from Susan is the best plan because they think she killed Berger. Carl sneaks over to her apartment to chat and after a while, the real killers return to knock off Susan and Carl too.

All-night hijinks and misadventures ensue as Potterdam takes charge and heads out with more henchmen to supervise the killing of these two clowns and Susan. Comic book-like madness continues as Carl and Susan try to escape being trapped in oil drums. The boys go swinging from flatbed truck gates on the highway and pull from their bag of usual work tricks, like high-fiving with trash can lids across Potterdam’s face. Of course, all ends well like any good old video game/comic book should, as our crew of oddballs laugh on a sand berm while the bad guy gets covered in waste at the bottom of a ditch used for dumping sewage.

Great jumping catfish, this one is odd, a little lame, juvenile in many ways, and just all over the damn place. That being said, once one throws out plot, logic, and plausibility, the movie does make for an entertaining 98 minutes on a night where I sure as shooting needed the lame laughs. I do appreciate that and I do love Charlie and Emilio. I also think they work well together. Young Guns is definitely a better movie to highlight that though as this one is kind of a misfire.

The “High Definition (1080p) presentation of the main feature” looks way better than any VHS copy. The only extra is the Original Theatrical Trailer. I do like what MVD Rewind Collection has done with the slipcover art. It loos like a 1980s VHS box complete with replicas of those well worn little stickers video stores would put on the tape covers. I can’t forget to mention that the Blu-ray does come with a movie poster inside where Charlie and Emilio look comically tough. So cheers to crappy employees and Men at Work for its juvenile pranks, lame ass jokes and bullshit story.

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Joe Garcia III

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