Rated: PG-13 Reviewed by: Frank Release date: June 3, 1994 Released by: Touchstone Pictures
On the surface, Renaissance Man appears to be about Bill Rago (Danny DeVito) a middle aged ad copy writer who has worked his way down the ladder of success. The plot is more complex. It uses Hamlet in the hands of DeVito as a teacher of failing Army recruits as the vehicle to instill confidence in the young soldiers and to make a statement about the failures in the American education system.
Director Penny Marshall moves the cast in and out of comedy, sentimental hype, and confidence, building for everyone in the classroom including DeVito. She also manages to get a message about responsibility into the production as well. With all the above, the film remains a comedy with DeVito as the principal comic. His course could be called Fun with Shakespeare. His imitation of female leads in the Bard's play convinces the recruits that men can play girl parts as they originally did and it also brings laughs to the audience.
Gregory Hines plays a drill sergeant who does tit for tat with DeVito over the primary needs of the young soldiers.
A nice mix of comedy and sentimentality, The Renaissance Man provides a joyful evening of entertainment.