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Real Men is a 1987 comedy film starring James Belushi and John Ritter as the heroes: suave, womanizing CIA agent Nick Pirandello (Belushi) and weak and ineffectual insurance agent Bob Wilson (Ritter).[1]

Real Men
DVD cover of the movie Real Men.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byDennis Feldman
Produced byMartin Bregman
Written byDennis Feldman
Music byMiles Goodman
CinematographyJohn A. Alonzo
Edited byMalcolm Campbell
Glenn Farr
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release date
September 25, 1987
Running time
85 min.
CountryUnited States
Box office$873,903


After scientists accidentally spill a deadly chemical into the ocean, a group of aliens offer to help humans eliminate the chemical. They offer a choice, the Good Package to clean up the mess, or the Big Gun, a weapon capable of destroying the planet. The aliens only ask for a glass of water in return, which must be delivered by CIA agent Pillbox (John Ritter), the only human they entirely trust.

While preparing to meet the aliens, agent Pillbox is shot and killed in a forest by an unseen assassin. FBI computers find Bob Wilson (also played by Ritter), an insurance agent who looks just like Pillbox, and suggest sending Wilson in Pillbox's place. However, Wilson is a meek office worker who we initially see being easily pushed around by a group of local bullies and by a milkman who is trying to seduce his wife.

Tough guy government agent Nick Pirandello (James Belushi) is sent to recruit Wilson and escort him to the meeting. He meets Wilson at Wilson's home, with Russian agents close on his tail. Wilson thinks Pirandello is an intruder and tries ineffectively to attack him, culminating in a shoot-out with the Russians that devastates Wilson's house.

Parindello explains the mission as the pair head to meet the aliens near Washington, D.C. Wilson doesn't believe the story, and instead believes that Pirandello is insane. He repeatedly tries to escape, forcing Parindello to stop and try to convince him they're real. After a series of rather unconvincing demonstrations, one finally convinces Wilson their mission is real.

Wilson is then willing to do the job, but lacks skills and confidence. The pair meet corrupt CIA agents dressed as clowns, part of a splinter group that would rather receive the Big Gun. Pirandello tells Wilson that he is in fact a sleeper "Super Agent", at which point Wilson charges into battle and is knocked out with one punch. Pirandello defeats the clowns, but leads the waking/groggy Wilson to believe he did it. Wilson gains a new macho attitude.

Pirandello, weakened by love for a dominatrix he meets in a bar in Pittsburgh, abandons the mission, leaving Wilson on his own. During a final shootout between the rogue CIA element and Wilson, Pirandello comes to his senses and rejoins the mission; together they defeat the others, including Pirandello's boss. Wilson meets with the aliens and receives the Good Package to save humanity.

Wilson returns to his home, which has been repaired. With his new-found machismo, he deals with the bullies and the amorous milkman, bringing the film to an end.[2]


According to DVD Verdict, Real Men was barely released theatrically. The distributor, United Artists, was still suffering the aftereffects of the Heaven's Gate (1980) fiasco and financial troubles were still in full force.[3]


Upon release, the film received mediocre to poor reviews. In particular, the plot was panned as not credible. [4][5]

Years later, however, The A.V. Club called it one of the most underrated comedies of the 1980s.[6]


  1. ^ New York Media, LLC (21 September 1987). New York Magazine. New York Media, LLC. pp. 56–. 00287369.
  2. ^ "Real Men". HiDefDigest, July 14th, 2015. Matthew Hartman August 7th, 2015
  3. ^ Spears, Steve (14 July 2011). "Retro-review: Punching clowns, watering up aliens in 'Real Men'". Tampa Bay Times. Archived from the original on 2 June 2016. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  4. ^ "Real Men". Radio Times, Alan Jones
  5. ^ Emmis Communications (June 1987). Orange Coast Magazine. Emmis Communications. pp. 159–. 02790483.
  6. ^

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