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Men of Honor

Enuff to Make A Grown Man Cry

We are men. This is an unavoidable fact (not that we would avoid it even if we could). Being a man comes with certain character traits . . . such as falling asleep during any movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Such as . . . an incomprehensible passion for beer. And there's also the issue with the damn toilet seat.

But there are other things that make us men, too. The knowledge that if our best friend calls us at two in the morning and needs us to come get him off a street corner, we're going to bitch like there's no tomorrow. We're also going to go get him. The fact that if a friend needs our help, we're going to be there no matter what we have to go through.


This is the basis for the latest 20th Century Fox film, "Men of Honor," which opened Friday, November 10. Starring Robert DeNiro ("Meet the Parents," "The Godfather") and Cuba Gooding, Jr. ("Jerry Maguire," "Instinct"), "Honor" is the real-life story of Carl Brashear (Gooding), the first African-American diver in the Navy. It details his journey from Podunk, Kentucky, to cook school, to Bayonne, New Jersey and Navy Salvage and Rescue School, and eventually to becoming the first African-American Master Diver in the history of the Navy.

The movie does have its problems. DeNiro and Gooding, while performing masterfully, never seem to age in this story, which spans 20 years. Another deterrent is that while the two main actors are brilliant, the supporting cast is, well, not.

Luckily for us, DeNiro and Gooding take up 90% of the movie. DeNiro is great again as Master Chief Billy Sunday, an old, crusty throwback to the days of World War II. He does a fine job portraying the typical drill instructor type--your worst enemy and your best friend rolled into one. And Gooding is outstanding as Brashear, even though forced to maneuver through a wide variety of scenes. At one point, Brashear is calling out Sunday, and two minutes later he is virtually on his knees begging his fiancée to turn around. There aren't a lot of actors that can pull that off.

Even better than the actors is the plot they act out. It couldn't have been written any better than Brashear lived it. It starts out as your typical "black man beating the odds in the 1960s" story, but quickly progresses into a tale of a simple man, regardless of color, doing everything he can to beat unbeatable odds,

(l to r) Robert De Niro and Cuba Gooding, Jr. are Men of Honor

and depending on unlikely sources for moral support when all else fails.

Sure, this movie had a number of historical errors, as well as technical flubs regarding diving and Navy ships and the sort, but Gooding and DeNiro are so damn good at what they do that you don't even notice any of those. Their excellent performances and the overall strength of the plot appeal to the male's basic senses of honor, duty, and just plain being there for your friend when he needs you most. And watching Chief Sunday and Chief Brashear navigate their way through one of the more memorable closing scenes of the last few years is enough to erase any doubts about whether the movie was worth it or not.

If you are a man, and you have any sense of honor, integrity, or doing the right thing, you need to see this movie. But watch out, because if you're not careful, the power of this movie and the actors that play in it is almost enough to make you cry.

But you won't do that.

After all . . . you ARE a man.

Review by Mitch Worthington

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Tao of Steve
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Bless The Child
Almost Famous
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...Bagger Vance

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