Picks and Pans Review: Men at Work

updated 09/17/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/17/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Charlie Sheen, Emilio Estevez

It was a gesture of loyalty for Sheen to lend some of his big-star clout to this project, which his big brother wrote, directed and is grandiosely billing as "an Emilio Estevez picture."

And the siblings, as ostensibly hip garbagemen in a California town, do strike up an easy rapport as they get mixed up with an ocean-polluting chemical company.

The film, however, is basically sub-Police Academy stuff. Sheen, especially, should be ashamed of himself for stooping to be conquered by such lousy writing. He is, for one thing, a Peeping Tom (not the most sympathetic of hobbies). While ogling a woman flight attendant undressing, he says, "Wouldn't I like to fly those friendly skies."

There is also a lot of cop-bashing humor. The only two policemen in the movie with substantial parts are nerdy bullies, humiliated at every turn. Sure, it's just a movie, but a joke based on a gunsel saying "I just don't like killing cops too much" seems sour in this kind of flimsy comedy. (It also says something about the level Estevez is writing on that the two main villains have personalized license plates that read HIT MEN.)

These kinds of objections could be overlooked if the rest of the humor weren't so dependent on gags like exploding bags of human waste. And if villain John (The Fly) Getz weren't such a wretched comic actor. And if there weren't so many ostentatious plugs for one particular brand of beer. Darrell (Mike's Murder) Larson effectively plays a corrupt politician who finally turns in the polluters. Keith (Platoon) David threatens at times to almost add a little dignity to the proceedings. Leslie (War and Remembrance) Hope is smartly appealing as Larson's campaign aide and Sheen's romantic interest.

Face it, though, finding things to like in this film resembles—what else?—garbage picking. You have to poke through the junk to get to the good stuff. (PG-13)

From Our Partners