Real Men (1987) poster

Real Men (1987)


USA. 1987.


Director/Screenplay – Dennis Feldman, Producer – Martin Bregman, Photography – John A. Alonzo, Music – Miles Goodman, Visual Effects – DreamQuest Images, Special Effects Supervisor – Stan Parks, Art Direction – James Allen & William J. Cassidy. Production Company – United Artists.


John Ritter (Bob Wilson), James Belushi (Nick Pirandello), Bill Morey (Millard Cunard), Gail Barle (Sherry), Isa Andersen (Dolly), Isabella Hoffman (Barbara Wilson)


Mild-mannered insurance clerk Bob Wilson wakes in the middle of the night to find CIA agent Nick Pirandello inside his house. Nick tells Bob that he is a lookalike for a murdered agent. The dead agent has been engaged in negotiations with aliens for seven years and they need Bob to take his place to meet with the aliens on Friday. Not sure whether Nick is a raving lunatic or for real, Bob is reluctantly drawn into a series of bizarre adventures.

This is a genuinely off-the-wall comedy. Real Men is a science-fiction film – although it passed most of those in the genre completely by and was marketed as a light comedy. There is much to it that is very silly film – scenes with John Ritter racing around in the middle of gunfire and shooting people with his index finger while yelling “Bang!” is one such scene that stands out. On the other hand, what the film does have is a sense of humour that is so way out that it ends up generating a silliness that transcends itself.

One of the pleasures of Real Men is that it leaves one no idea where it is going to from one minute to the next. One of the funniest scenes in the film is the one where James Belushi shows Ritter a pen he claims was given to him by the aliens, which has the inscription “To Nick from your friends far away”; Ritter remains wholly unimpressed but then Belushi hammers it through a baseball and we watch as it sprouts antennae, rotates with coloured lights and then zips off to the stars. It is a very funny scene where the joke is one us for disbelieving Belushi’s patently absurd story about aliens and preposterously obvious attempts to con Ritter.

John Ritter and James Belushi in Real Men (1987)
(l to r) John Ritter and James Belushi take refuge in a phone box

Right throughout writer/director Dennis Feldman delights in pulling the expectation out from under an audience – we are still not even certain up until the end whether or not the aliens are real. One minute Jim Belushi can convince John Ritter he is a Russian sleeper, the next throw it away and say he was only trying to build up his confidence. In one scene, a person we are told is Jim Belushi’s aunt (played by no less Dyanne Thorne of Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS (1974) and sequels fame) comes onto John Ritter only to then be revealed to be Belushi’s father after a sex change.

The humour comes full of amusing surreal non-sequitirs – “I don’t smoke that much,” says Belushi. “Only after sex. I’m trying to give it up – I’m down to a packet a day.” In another scene, they are able to make an escape during a shootout simply because the Russians take a lunchbreak. It is a very silly film in many places but not unappealingly so.

Disappointingly, Real Men is the only film to have been directed by Dennis Feldman. Feldman did write several other genre films, including the Eddie Murphy fantasy vehicle The Golden Child (1986), the first Species (1995) and the killer alien robot film Virus (1999).

Trailer here

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