Film Review: "Renaissance Man"

Bill Rago (Danny DeVito) suddendly finds himself unemployed after being fired from his job as an advertising executive, and also finds he can't do anything else. After suffering through the red tape and long lines of the unemployment office, he is finally given a job that he figures he could do: Teach basic comprehension to a group of soldiers at a nearby Army post. Thus begins "Renaissance Man."

Bill runs into several problems, and the job is not quite as easy as he thought it would be. He really doesn't want to be there, the soldiers don't want to be there and their drill sergeant (Gregory Hines) wants them out in the training field, not in the classroom.

After being challenged by the drill sergeant, Bill finally decides to take his job a little more seriously and tries to get the students interesting in learning. But he doesn't really know what to teach. He starts by explaining oxymorons, similes and metaphors. This leads him to give some examples from "Hamlet," which he has been reading. The students become interested in the play after he gives them a watered-down version of the plot. They start to read it for themselves and discuss the meaning in class.

Bill has to deal with the problems and attitudes that the soldiers bring into class with them, and try to help them overcome those problems by learning. The class starts to bond and Bill starts to enjoy teaching.

It is great to see the way that Bill teaches these students, not only to enjoy Shakespeare, but how to incorporate it into their daily lives as well. This group is teased by the other soldiers.

This film is funny and touching, but not so sticky-sweet that it makes you cry. The touching moments are as Bill becomes friends with the soldiers and begins to care about the job. The humorous moments come as he tries to adjust to living on the Army base. The fact that he is a civilian also provides the audience with a few laughs as he tries to confront Army rules and regulations.

There really isn't too much excitement in this film. However, there are no slow parts to the plot either. It is a pretty calm, humorous, touching, enjoyable movie. It probably won't stack up very well for the summer when compared to movies like "Speed" and "Wolf," but it is still a good one to see, anyway. This is also a good movie for the younger audiences and those who do not like a lot of swearing or violence but enjoy a decent show.

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