Renaissance Man, is a 1994 comedy-drama film directed by Penny Marshall, and starring Danny DeVito, Gregory Hines, James Remar, and Ed Begley, Jr.
Danny DeVito plays Bill Rago, a divorced advertising executive down on his luck. When he loses his job in Detroit
, the unemployment agency finds him a temporary job; teaching in the U.S. Army
training base, Fort McClane.
Initially unenthusiastic about this assignment, Rago finds that he has only six weeks to teach a group of "squeakers," who are especially low achievers, the basics of comprehension and use of English language. Most of the soldiers are only semi-literate and equally unenthusiastic.
Unable to connect with his pupils and desperate to spark their interest, Rago quotes from his favorite play Hamlet by William Shakespeare, which they have never heard of. A small initial spark of interest is generated.
Rago further introduces them to Henry V, which generates further interest. Despite the disapproval of their hard-as-nails Drill Sergeant Cass, and the loss of one of the trainees, revealed as a drug dealer hiding under an assumed identity, he sets them an end-of-term examination, which Cass doesn't expect them to pass - but they do.
The climax comes as one of the soldiers proudly gives Cass the St. Crispin's Day Speech by King Henry V while in full combat gear in the middle of the rain at a night exercise. Rago realises that he has finally achieved success.
Rago also does some investigation, as a result of which one of the soldiers is awarded the medal his father was to have been given posthumously after he was killed on duty in Vietnam.
As the proud soldiers march at their passing-our parade, Rago signs on for a further period of teaching soldiers-in-training.
- Danny DeVito as Bill Rago, an advertising executive who finds himself unable to balance his personal problems with his job. As a result, he loses his job. He applies for unemployment and is ultimately offered a temporary teaching job for the U.S. Army. Bitter and frustrated, he finds himself unable to comprehend his position or the strict structure of the army.
- Gregory Hines as Sergeant Cass, a top notch official who makes it clear to Rago upon the first meeting, that he finds his teachings to be a waste of time and money.
- James Remar as Captain Tom Murdoch, an official at Fort McClane who is always busy but finds himself amused by Bill Rago's initial frustrations.
- Ed Begley, Jr. as Jack Markin, Bill Rago's advertising partner who does his best to defend Rago when he comes under fire for losing a business deal.
- Lillo Brancato Jr. as Private Donnie Benitez, a soldier from the Bronx who was originally part of a violent gang which killed his thirteen-year-old sister. He abandons the gang and enlists.
- Stacey Dash as Private Miranda Myers, the sole female soldier in the class. Growing up, she and her mother were constantly moving around the country. Prior to joining the army, her mother ran off with a man and left her alone. While sitting at a bus stop after the abandonment, she found herself staring for two hours straight at an army recruitment sign with the slogan "Be all that you can be." As a result, she enlists.
- Kadeem Hardison as Private Jamaal Montgomery, a wise-cracking soldier that jokes around and taunts everyone.
- Richard T. Jones as Private Jackson Leroy, a serious soldier who had previously been an all-star football player before an injury forced him to give up his dream. He is bitter about having been encouraged to only pursue sports leaving him with only a handful of options. He states that he will do his best to keep his son away from football.
- Khalil Kain as Private Roosevelt (Nathaniel) Hobbs, an intelligent yet mysterious soldier that intrigues Bill Rago to encourage officials to explore his background in hopes of promoting him. While the research is being conducted, the officials uncover that he joined the army with a fake identity to escape warrants for his arrest from selling crack.
- Peter Simmons as Private Brian Davis, Jr., a soldier prone to attacks from his superiors and fellow soldiers for continually discussing and idolizing his deceased father, who was killed in the Vietnam War before he was born.
- Gregory Sporleder as Private Melvin Melvin, a soldier that is well-known for falling asleep under any situation. It is implied that he enlisted to escape the beatings he endured from his stepfather. Upon receiving a letter, he learns that his younger siblings have begun to receive the beatings in his place.
- Mark Wahlberg as Private Tommy Lee Haywood, a tough-talking soldier from the trailer parks who had previously worked in a mill with his father before it closed down. He enlists in the army in hopes to see the world beyond the trailer park.
The scenes at the fictional "Fort McClane" were actually filmed at Fort Jackson
, South Carolina