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The Men's Club Blu-ray Review

The Men's Club (1986) movie poster The Men's Club

Theatrical Release: September 19, 1986 / Running Time: 112 Minutes / Rating: R

Director: Peter Medak / Writer: Leonard Michaels (screenplay & book)

Cast: David Dukes (Phillip), Richard Jordan (Kramer), Harvey Keitel (Solly Berliner), Frank Langella (Harold Canterbury), Roy Scheider (Cavanaugh), Craig Wasson (Paul), Treat Williams (Terry), Stockard Channing (Nancy), Gina Gallego (Felicia), Cindy Pickett (Hannah), Gwen Welles (Redhead), Penny Baker (Lake), Rebeccah Bush (Stella), Claudia Cron (Stacey), Ann Dusenberry (Page), Marilyn Jones (Allison), Manette La Chance (Billy), Jennifer Jason Leigh (Teensy), Ann Wedgeworth (Jo), Helen Shaver (Sarah - uncredited)

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Watching and writing about movies have been the only jobs of my adult life, and thus I have been exposed to so much cinema created over the years. Nonetheless, it is still entirely possible for me to discover things I've never even heard of. Like The Men's Club. I am familiar with seven of the actors that appear in this 1986 film, having seen them in multiple works.
But in exploring their filmographies, I've never noticed this one credit linking them all. And why would I? Though the head-scratching tagline claimed "The Breakfast Club, The Big Chill, and now The Men's Club", the lattermost of those is far less obscure than the two that preceded it. There isn't a whole lot of common ground between the three either, other than the fact that it gathers characters around for talk and most of those characters are, as in The Big Chill, Baby Boomers (or slightly older).

But while many like The Big Chill and many more love The Breakfast Club, few know The Men's Club and most of them do not like it, as evidenced by its pitiful 4.5 out of 10 average user rating on IMDb from just 649 votes since that database was launched in the 1990s. Now, I join their ranks, knowing the movie...and not liking it very much at all.

The seven men of "The Men's Club" are introduced with text that disappears, enabling them to form an extremely 1980s title logo.

Based on the 1981 book of the same name, the National Book Critics Circle-nominated debut novel of Leonard Michaels, The Men's Club gathers seven seasoned men from around Berkeley, California one Wednesday night for a meeting of the minds. They include retired major league slugger Cavanaugh (Roy Scheider), psychotherapist Kramer (Richard Jordan), and doctor Terry (Treat Williams). These well-dressed, affluent white men, all friends to some degree, gather together in Kramer's house to talk about the women they've loved. Cavanaugh talks about all the women he's hit and quit. Harold Canterbury (Frank Langella) opens up about coming home to an empty house after his wife left him and took most of the furniture with her. Real estate mogul Solly Berliner (Harvey Keitel) claims he is enlightened because he doesn't feel anything anymore.

The movie initially proceeds like My Dinner with Andre, except instead of having two estranged friends discuss life experiences and creative expression in a New York restaurant, we get seven men in a private California home talking about the broads they've banged. By today's standards, the conversation is consistently sleazy and misogynistic. It doesn't get any better when the inebriated guys start throwing knives at a door or face the wrath of Kramer's wife (Stockard Channing).

After the incident with her, in the wee morning hours (evidently none of these guys has to work on Thursday), everyone but Dr. Kramer decides to spontaneously drive to San Francisco for a stop at the House of Affection, a brothel run by a woman (Ann Wedgeworth) with a ventriloquist's doll. With that, the movie changes gears completely; this second half was invented for the film and did not appear in the text. There, these horny, not so single men get to sleep with busty prostitutes. Harold gets his face painted and flattered by Teensy (Jennifer Jason Leigh). And Solly falls in love with his hooker, setting up a wedding finale.

Laughs flow as the likes of Cavanaugh (Roy Scheider) and Solly Berliner (Harvey Keitel) discuss their experiences with women in "The Men's Club."

The Men's Club leaves you feeling in need of a shower. It's so corny and dated and crude. The most kindred film in feeling I can think of would be Bachelor Party and while that early Tom Hanks vehicle played raunch and gender politics purely for laughs, this one wants you to think and feel about its men and their plight. It's kind of gross and wouldn't at all be acceptable today. The biggest revelation may be just how far gender roles and depictions have evolved in thirty years.
Sure, there are still movies where women supply all the nudity and are treated like objects of titillation. But those are generally dumb comedies with none of this film's aspirations. The Men's Club wants us to like and sympathize with these nasty men who somehow cannot find lasting love while pumping and dumping women, whether for free or a fee.

The Men's Club did no favor to anyone associated with it. Hungarian director Peter Medak (The Changeling) was soon relegated to television, where he's spent most of his career on single episodes, save for the occasional feature-length trash (e.g. Species II). The cast, then enjoying different degrees of success, all continued a downturn, with only Keitel really able to rebound strongly within a few years. Michaels, who adapted his own text and had one prior screenplay credit a decade earlier, never worked in Hollywood again. And The Men's Club, after a surprisingly decent debut in limited release, floundered, grossing just $2.5 million and swiftly graduating to obscurity.

The film is unlikely to escape that obscurity in this week's DVD and Blu-ray releases from Olive Films, which marks the first time it has been available on either 5-inch disc format.

The Men's Club Blu-ray Disc cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray Disc Details

1.85:1 Widescreen
2.0 DTS-HD MA (English)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Not Subtitled
Release Date: January 24, 2017
Single-sided, single-layered disc (BD-25)
Suggested Retail Price: $29.95
Also available on DVD ($24.95 SRP) and Amazon Instant Video
Blue Keepcase

VIDEO and AUDIO

Though there is rarely much to say about new Blu-rays these days, The Men's Club doesn't look super terrific, but that is most likely due to its age and origins. The 1.85:1 presentation is soft and grainy throughout, but it's not like the movie is going to be getting a superior transfer anytime soon. The 2.0 DTS-HD MA mono soundtrack is adequate and mostly unremarkable. There are a few instances where you notice the picture and sound are not perfectly synched, but that is obviously an issue that dates back to filming and not something new that arises here. English subtitles are supplied for the hearing impaired.

Like the theatrical poster more than thirty years earlier, Jennifer Jason Leigh's Teensy gets The Men's Club Blu-ray menu all to herself.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The Blu-ray's only extra is The Men's Club original theatrical trailer (2:49),
which is presented in HD but in a worn state. Watch closely and you'll notice it includes a couple of alternate takes and edits as well as credits for Helen Shaver (who's unbilled in the film) and someone named Macarena.

The static menu gives us a close-up of a beauty mark-applying Teensy, Jennifer Jason Leigh's character who also curiously claimed the theatrical poster to herself.

A booklet inside the standard blue keepcase enables you to join the Olive Films' mailing list, which you can obviously do online without the stamp and snail mailing.

His face colorfully painted by a prostitute, Harold Canterbury (Frank Langella) proceeds to marry Solly and his hooker in the inane finale of "The Men's Club."

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Fans of The Men's Club cast members who have long wondered what this movie was get a chance to find out here. Odds are, though, that they will be disappointed by this dated and detestably sexist drama particularly at a time when audiences crave diversity and care about more than just the problems of privileged white men. Olive Films' Blu-ray treats this forgotten dud to a decent presentation that few will appreciate.

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Related Reviews:
Roy Scheider: Jaws Cohen & Tate John Grisham's The Rainmaker | Treat Williams: 127 Hours Brothers & Sisters: The Complete First Season
Harvey Keitel: Sister Act Taxi Driver National Treasure Life on Mars: The Complete Series | Jennifer Jason Leigh: The Hateful Eight Anomalisa eXistenZ
Frank Langella: Robot & Frank The Driftless Area Parts Per Billion Draft Day | Richard Jordan: The Friends of Eddie Coyle The Murder of Mary Phagan
1980s on Blu-ray: My Dinner with Andre The Postman Always Rings Twice Deathtrap The Breakfast Club Ferris Bueller's Day Off The Color of Money Used Cars
Think Like a Man The Hangover Last Vegas

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Reviewed January 22, 2017.



Text copyright 2017 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 1986 Atlantic Releasing Corporation and 2017 Olive Films, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and 20th Century Fox. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.