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  Men at Work What A Load Of Rubbish
Year: 1990
Director: Emilio Estevez
Stars: Charlie Sheen, Emilio Estevez, Leslie Hope, Keith David, John Getz, Dean Cameron, Hawk Wolinski, John Lavachielli, Geoffrey Blake, Cameron Dye, John Putch, Tommy Hinkley, Darrell Larson, Sy Richardson, Kari Whitman
Genre: Comedy, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: John Berger (Darrell Larson) is a candidate for the position of city mayor but his prospects are in jeopardy due to his involvement with Maxwell Potterdam (John Getz), the head of a chemicals company that is illegally dumping toxic waste in the sea. What Potterdam doesn't know is that Berger has taped their conversation which incriminates him, but unfortunately for Berger the tape is accidentally switched by his campaign manager Susan (Leslie Hope). She lives across the street from Carl (Charlie Sheen), who frequently spies on his neighbours, including Susan, as he is doing tonight, not being able to sleep because his girlfriend has just left him. Little do they know that soon Carl and his fellow garbageman James (Emilio Estevez) will be caught up with Susan's problems.

"She just smiled and gave me a vegemite sandwich!" No it's not that Men at Work, this is the second directorial effort from star Estevez, who also wrote the script. Remember when he and Sheen were cool for a few days back in the eighties? Emilio was in Repo Man! Well, this isn't a patch on that cult favourite, but does provide easy, undemanding entertainment having been made just as their popularity was fading at the dawn of the nineties. Most stars would have settled for playing maverick cops living life on the edge, but here the brothers go one better and play maverick refuse collectors living life at a pretty slow pace with dreams of setting up a surfing shop.

This doesn't mean they don't get into scrapes, of course, and we know that the story will arrive soon even after half an hour of waiting as Carl and James wander around chatting, playing practical jokes on their workmates, and generally going nowhere fast. As with those maverick cops, they have a chief (Sy Richardson) who is furious at their flaunting of the rules of garbagepersons after the complaints he's received, and he provides the film's trump card when he assigns his brother-in-law Louis to ride with them and keep an eye on their antics. Played by Keith David, this role is a masterclass of how to steal an average film ("I thrive on misery!"), and it's he who makes this worthwhile watching.

As all this is happening, Berger has two hitmen after him sent by Potterdam, and he arrives at Susan's apartment looking for the tape in a panic. All this is observed by Carl and James opposite, and Carl is infuriated by the way Berger is pushing Susan around so shoots him in the arse with his pellet gun, but when they both duck down so they won't be seen, they miss the fact that Berger is strangled by the hitmen who have just burst in. This is where the plot begins to get convoluted as the hitmen try to dump the body in an waste drum, which falls out the back of their car and comes to a rest at the side of the road beside some garbage. So guess who stumble across it the next day?

This is one of those films where, if the characters had simply gone to the police, then everything would have been wrapped up with a minimum of fuss. However Louis hates cops and decides they should sort out the mess themselves; Louis is also a veteran of the Vietnam War and the stress is bringing on flashbacks as we witness when he kidnaps a pizza delivery man (Dean Cameron) who he feels has seen too much when James wheels out the body they're hiding in the apartment. David is highly amusing and lifts the whole film, even as other elements, such as the lightning fast romance developing between Carl and Susan, weigh it down. In addition there's a pro-enviromental message that almost seems an afterthought, and an indifferent action climax to round things off. Men at Work is not quite as bad as its reputation, and all that's down to one man, and no, it's not Emilio. Music by Stewart Copeland.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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