House Logo
Explore categories +

Stewart Copeland (#110 of 2)

Summer of ‘90: Men at Work: Grasping at the Last Strands of ‘80s Nostalgia

Comments Comments (...)

Summer of ’90: Men at Work: Grasping at the Last Strands of ’80s Nostalgia

Triumph Releasing Corporation

Summer of ’90: Men at Work: Grasping at the Last Strands of ’80s Nostalgia

Men at Work is patient zero for the plague of Charlie Sheen movies that infected the 1990s. One tends to forget that Sheen had steady work in that decade, turning out cocky fare like The Chase and Terminal Velocity. And while Men at Work isn’t the first film to use the actor in his then-typical role of a wiseass hot-shot lothario, the casual laziness that would infect his ’90s output has its origins in writer-director Emilio Estevez’s crime comedy. As Carl Taylor, Sheen can’t be bothered to do anything but exist on screen as he wades through his brother’s mercilessly overstuffed plot.

Estevez’s second feature is a major step down from his 1986 debut, Wisdom. For that film, Estevez was flanked by a massively talented crew: It was edited by Michael Kahn, scored by Danny Elfman, and produced by legendary Oscar-winning director Robert Wise, whom Estevez sought out for advice and guidance. Despite all that firepower, Wisdom is shocking in its ineptitude, a crime thriller saddled with far too many useless details and tangents. The more problematic Men at Work suffers from the same screenplay overcompensations, to the point where one wishes Estevez sought out Wise’s contemporary, Billy Wilder, for advice instead. Wilder would have burned the script for Men at Work.

The Rural Life and Spirit at Rooftop Films

Comments Comments (...)

The Rural Life and Spirit at Rooftop Films
The Rural Life and Spirit at Rooftop Films

From glitzy, hipster-courting sponsors—including IFC Films and New York magazine—to the free flavored beverages (courtesy of Vitamin Water during the show) and free alcohol (courtesy of Radeberger Pilsner at the after-party around the corner), Rooftop Films Summer Series 2010, at first glance, seems to have taken a page from the slick playbook of the Gen Art Film Festival. There’s the indie band to warm up the crowd before the screening and a bulky program the size of Interview magazine. There are trailers for the IFC channel’s latest TV hit and for YouTube-sensation-turned-documentary-feature Winnebago Man. By the time the nine o’clock program finally rolls, inevitably fashionably late, you’ve nearly forgotten what you came there to see in the first place.

But then the sky goes dark, and one of the 23 features or 21 shorts programs included in this “14th Annual Summer Series of Underground Movies Outdoors” begins. And the magic of cinema slices right through the hype.