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Overall Rating

Awesome: 19.05%
Worth A Look: 12.7%
Average: 31.75%
Pretty Bad34.92%
Total Crap: 1.59%

5 reviews, 33 user ratings

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Men of Honor
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by Scott Weinberg

"Nothing new here, people...move along."
2 stars

Someday, moviegoers will tire of such forced and transparent movies like Men of Honor. Movies like this one think that merely mentioning something topical (racism, this time around) makes for a thoughtful movie. And to take a 'real-life' story and bend it to such unrealistic limits is simply Hollywood laziness at its most obvious.

Aside from the presence of Robert DeNiro, there's nothing new or entertaining in this movie. Not one frame even comes close to resembling something fresh or original. Surely actors like Robert DeNiro and Cuba Gooding Jr. can choose their 'glamour roles' with a little more sense.

As a child, Carl Brashear (Gooding) loved being underwater. We know this because we see him frolicking underwater during the opening credits. So with the annoying issue of character development safely tucked away, now can begin the parade of cliches. After enlisting in the Navy, Carl learns that there are very few opportunities for an enlisted black man, so he crosses the line by swimming in the ocean during "White Boys Only" swim time. This predictably catches the eye of the one decent officer in the entire Navy (Powers Boothe) who promptly jails Carl, and then immediately promotes him thanks to the old Hollywood reasoning: "Hey, you got balls of steel...I like your moxie...They can use a guy like you down at the blah blah blah."

Upon arriving at 'Dive School', Carl immediately butts head with Master Chief Billy Sunday (DeNiro), and a large portion of the movie consists of the tired 'boot-camp' stuff that was old-hat in Hollywood about 40 years ago. The usually interesting Michael Rapaport is on hand to play the only white guy to side with Carl, but for some unknown reason is forced to deliver his dialogue in a humiliating display of stuttering. Carl withstands all the taunting and abuse, while maintaining his composure and ever-earnest attitude. But as graduation approaches, the screenplay takes a sharp lturn into unintentional hilarity. Aimless and unrealistic characters, pointless subplots, and muddled motivations fill the screen.

Why is Charlize Theron playing such a meaningless role as DeNiro's wife - or is she his daughter? We later realize that she's meant to be his wife, although the fact that we're forced to guess is further proof of the laziness of the script. As Commander 'Pappy', Hal Holbrook gets to play perhaps the most poorly-written role of his career. As the insane and extremely racist Commander, he's the villain that we're supposed to hate. But since his dialogue is unintentionally funny, that pretty much ruins any chance for drama.

Once Carl finally becomes a Navy Diver, Men of Honor just breaks down completely. Since the movie has already spent about 90 minutes on the 'boot camp racism' plot, the movie now has to plow through about FOUR more plots before we can all go home. How many endings does one movie need? Carl becomes a war hero. Carl suffers a nasty leg injury. Carl splits with his wife. Carl opts to get his leg amputated. Carl learns to walk again. And finally Carl gets to preach and emote and scream the film's turgid 'courtroom finale'. Hey, save something for the sequel!

The only source of amusement in Men of Honor is, of course, Robert DeNiro. His unpredictably vulgar portrayal of Billy Sunday is just enjoyable enough to keep you from falling asleep after 15 minutes.

What's noticably annoying about Men of Honor is how liberally it simply STEALS from other movies. The entire first half if this film IS An Officer and a Gentleman with a strong handful of Rocky sprinkled in to make it seem different. When you find yourself successfully predicting the upcoming scene, that's not a good thing.

While it's certainly not an atrocious film, maybe injecting some tiny nugget of originality would have been a good move. As far as how 'true-to-life' this true life story is, I'd be willing to wager that nobody's life is this trite, hollow and predictable.

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originally posted: 11/10/00 18:14:05
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User Comments

12/22/14 brian pardoe Ridicuolous review you've given. Inspired by a true story - it doesn't need novelty 5 stars
11/12/09 cuba gooding jr my fav movie of all time 5 stars
11/02/09 tinr29 nice but its too melodramatic 2 stars
10/13/08 Shaun Wallner Awesome story! 5 stars
9/30/06 Tamara D. Leonard Awesome movie. One of my favorites. I can watch it over and over, never tiring of it. 5 stars
8/18/05 ES boring, uninspired blah, two hours I want back 2 stars
8/03/05 rosalyn its was so nice movie 4 stars
5/22/05 Elizabeth should Talk about hate 3 stars
4/06/05 Ronin A good movie indeed 4 stars
10/14/04 sidhant petwal its a movie which inspires to be the best, to give the best in you and never give up 4 stars
8/25/04 Collins Shiri It is worth watching over and over again. The viewer gets emotionally involved to a large e 5 stars
4/21/04 Kayla Walkom This was an awesome movie. The first time that I watched it it blew me away. 5 stars
4/20/04 raquel i thought this movie was a great movie and shows that if u work hard u can acheive anything 5 stars
10/13/03 John Bale Predictable well worn territory not saved by hard working actors. 3 stars
8/08/03 Sylvanna It wa a great film. 5 stars
8/05/03 Andrew Minor Minor Flaws, Brillant film 5 stars
7/03/03 R.W. Welch Obviously hyped for dramatic effect but a basically a strong story. A bit strung strong out 3 stars
6/10/03 Jack Bourbon I couldn't believe I was renting it. I was shocked to actually enjoy it. 4 stars
3/04/03 Jack Sommersby Unexpectedly winning and touching. The two stars really shine here. 4 stars
2/18/03 Joesco Forget the cynics - Brashear is a hero and De Niro & Gooding are brilliant 5 stars
12/21/02 palaboy101 triumph in the face of adversity 5 stars
12/16/02 Panu Peiponen pretty awesome 5 stars
1/08/02 Andrew Carden Tries To Be As Serious As Meant To Be, but Fails. 2 stars
11/27/01 malcolm a bit melodramatic but very good. an emotional film. 4 stars
11/14/01 phil m. afficiando Comic book version of what was a compelling story in real life; too much baloney. 3 stars
4/21/01 Monday Morning If it wasn't a true story I'd think it was too hokey...but hell, let's be nice for once. 4 stars
12/14/00 Jules Predictable, but moderately entertaining. 3 stars
12/10/00 vessejoigt Good flick 4 stars
11/21/00 Tdis72 Not as bad as I thought it was gonna be, but not great either! 3 stars
11/13/00 poetchuck No cliches left for any other film to use this season 2 stars
11/12/00 Jojo The Idiot Circus Boy I've seen one legged porn with more plot then this. 1 stars
11/12/00 kohawk ending of movie was a wanna-be Scent of a Woman.Pretty crappy? pretty corny. 3 stars
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  10-Nov-2000 (R)


  22-Feb-2001 (M)

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