Renaissance Man [1994]

Penny Marshall directed this well-intentioned drama-comedy about a middle-aged advertising executive (Danny DeVito) whose heart has never been in his work. Fired for incompetence, DeVito's character is on the skids; but then comes an unusual job offer: Teach a bunch of boot-camp army recruits to read and think. The first-time teacher leads the uniformed men and women to an appreciation of Shakespeare, but he still has to grapple with his own problems with commitment and responsibility. Watching this film is like staring at a pool of broken eggs that never quite becomes an omelet. The story's promise is always there, but the satisfaction never quite comes. Still, there are some nice moments, and the whole thing works better on video than it did in the theaters. --Tom Keogh

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Pvt. Tommy Lee Haywood:
There's these woods behind our trailer park. This old guy lives in the woods there. Everybody in town swore he was crazy. He showed me how to hunt, and how to be real quiet, and how to listen. He said he had seen everythin' in the world he wanted to see, and he ain't never wanted to leave those woods. Well, me and my daddy got laid off at the paper mill, and whilst I spent about five months watchin' TV with my brothers, I kept thinkin' of what the old man said. Finally, I decided that I did want to see more of the world, and what was behind that trailer park. And that's why I joined up.

Private Miranda Myers:
I liked livin' with my aunt, Mavis, in Chicago the best. But last summer, my mother, Ruthie, came back and we drove to Atlanta. She said, "We don't have to stay long," but then she met a man, and they take off. I waited around for a while, waitin' for her to come back, but everybody keep sayin', "Just go on home." I don't know where that is. So I take the bus to Cleaveland and spend two days starin' at the poster behind the driver sayin', "Be all you can be." So I think about that for a week, and think I gotta be somewhere, so here I am.

Pvt. Jamaal Mongomerey:
In my crib, there ain't never been a time where we eat, sleep, or nothin'. Y'know, everybody just run around crazy. Half the time, I don't even know who were are. I must be the only person in the world who joined the army so he'd know what time he'd eat.

Pvt. Roosevelt Nathaniel Hobbs:
I wanted to learn a new trade.

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