Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Shout Factory - EASY MONEY & MEN AT WORK on Blu-ray ""

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Shout Factory - EASY MONEY & MEN AT WORK on Blu-ray

EASY MONEY (1983; James Signorelli)
One thing I miss about movies these days is title sequences. Okay, that's not totally fair, movies still certainly have title sequences now again, but I guess I'm reminded of how sublime a simple credit sequence can be. Case in point, EASY MONEY. The credits roll over a long take of (presumably) Rodney Dangerfield's hands fumbling through old papers and proof sheets on his desk whilst Billy Joel's "Easy Money" plays. Of course this isn't the very beginning of the movie. That scene features Dangerfield playing with a puppet for some kids and having several joints drop out of it. As raunchy as movies still are today, there's just something delightfully 1980s about this whole beginning to the movie. I mean 80s in that absolutely R-rated, but was something you caught on an HBO free weekend and felt funny while watching it kinda way. At least that's how I thought I remembered it. The whole movie is about bad behavior and Dangerfield's character embodies a lot of bad habits. It's a fun premise though, the idea he can inherit a bunch of dough if he can clean up his act. In rewatching it, I realized that my perspective as a kid may have been a bit skewed. The drug references and one scene of nudity aside, this is really a pretty sweet-hearted film. There's not all that much swearing even. Rodney Dangerfield's character has bad habits like I said, but he decides to take on the challenge of trying to reform himself in the time span of one year in order to inherit the money from his dead mother-in-law. He does it mostly for his family though. He's not money crazy in the way that I remembered at all. And the movie's overall message is one of some positivity. It is a good idea to drink less, smoke less and eat healthy. The movie even made me want to go for a run! Anyway, it's interestingly paced and plotted in that the money story doesn't even kick in until about 40 minutes in (I recalled it coming in earlier) and there's also a sublot with Dangerfield's daughter (Jennifer Jason Leigh) that I completely forgot about. She gets married early on in the film (to the late great character actor Talyor Negron), but things turn south and her new husband and he spends a portion of the movie trying to reconcile with here. If this movie was ever remade, I feel like they would rush to the "getting the money" plot right away and not allow the time to just hang out with the characters. Dangerfield is great here and he and Joe Pesci make an excellent duo. Pesci was still early on in his career, but he handles himself perfectly and is quite funny. While there are definitely a few taboo things with the drugs and such touched on in the film, it is overall a pretty gentle comedy especially by today's standards. This along with BACK TO SCHOOL and CADDYSHACK certainly exemplify the best of Rodney Dangerfield cinema.

"There are several sacred things in this world and one of them happens to be another man's fries. Now you remember that and you'll live a long and healthy life".

MEN AT WORK is one of those gems that many of us discovered back in the glory days of VHS and video stores. We may have been drawn in when we saw brothers Emilio Estevez and Charlie Sheen in a movie together. Maybe we thought it had something to do with the Australian rock band, who knows. Regardless, we gave it a look and it became something of a favorite. We began to "golf clap" at each other and throw out many of the film's other highly quotable lines  to anyone that might know them. I know it was a movie that was a big deal to me and my video store coworkers back in the mid 1990s (not to date myself too much). There's just something about a movie that centers around two garbage men who are mostly just into having a good time in their jobs and their lives that really appealed to us. These guys were having conversations along the lines of the conversations we were having at work. They were giving each other a hard time like we did and whatnot. So this could just have been a dead-end job hangout movie and it would have been fun, but writer (and director) Emilio Estevez decided to go all CHINATOWN with the thing which was unexpected to say the least, but a welcome oddball shift nonethless. The underhanded dealings that the guys get caught up in has to do with toxic waste dumping, which adds a layer of an environmental message there too I guess. So MEN AT WORK ends up being a kind of screwball-hangout-conspiracy-adventure-comedy and that is a rare genre combination. Things get more and more ridiculous as the movie progresses, but it always stays funny. Keith David gets involved as a PTSD'd out Vietnam vet plus they even rope in a pizza delivery boy played by cult actor Dean Cameron and Cameron Dye (VALLEY GIRL) as well who plays a fellow garbage man. There's even a little bit of Hitchcock thrown in here in that part of the setup for the story comes from Charlie Sheen's character's fondness for spying on his neighbors in the apartment building across the way. 
MEN AT WORK is still quite endearing to me and it continues to make me laugh every time I watch it. I suggest getting a group of friends together to see it so you can start quoting it randomly amongst yourselves as soon as possible.

Here's a fun vintage TV interview with Emilio Estevez from 1990 when he was on the Arsenio Hall show (he mentions both YOUNG GUNS II and MEN AT WORK):

Despite cramming two movies onto one Blu-ray disc, these transfers looked fine to me. No special features are included unfortunately.
This disc can be purchased here:

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