When someone asks you if you want “the big gun” or “the good package,” you know s/he’s a fan of writer/director Dennis Feldman’s “Real Men” (he also wrote “Just One of the Guys” and “The Golden Child”). The wacky spy comedy from 1987 follows ace-but-unorthodox CIA agent Nick Pirandello (Jim Belushi) as he escorts nebbishy family man Bob Wilson (John Ritter) to a secret rendezvous with aliens. Wilson isn’t actually anything special, but he’s the spitting image of Agent Pillbox, the assassinated CIA agent who the aliens are expecting to meet.
See, these extraterrestrials are offering the human race a special treat. A choice between two, actually. The “big gun,” which has the ability to destroy an entire planet, or the “good package,” a collection of scientific discoveries, one of which can be used to save the world’s secretly tainted water supply. All the space-folk want in return is a glass of water. Nick and Bob are after the good package of course, while rogue elements in both the Soviet KGB (remember– 1987) and the CIA are angling for the big gun.
It’s all very silly and tongue-in-cheek, as you might have guessed by the aliens’ demand for a glass of water. There are kung fu-fighting CIA clowns, a flying pen, a horny post-op dad and Happy Pies. At one point early in the story, Bob becomes convinced that he can shoot people by pointing at them and shouting “bang!”
I’m not sure why this one has stuck with me for so long. It used to pop up in cable broadcasts all the time when I was younger, and I came to love the fun, (mostly) child-friendly banter between Ritter and Belushi. The movie doesn’t necessarily hold up when I objectively step back; goofy dialogue and some of the more unbelievable plot twists are there and waiting to be criticized.
I don’t really care though. “Real Men” is a fun, light-hearted little comedy/adventure and it shouldn’t be taken as anything more than that. I turned it on earlier this week to just play in the background and became thoroughly absorbed once again in the goofy, Cold War-era satire.
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