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Film / The Wrong Guys

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"When I was a kid, the sky was blue, the lawns were green, and the Buicks? Well, they were two-toned. Every Wednesday, the guys would gather at my house for our Cub Scout meeting. We were Den 7, the Owl Patrol."
Louie Anderson's opening narration

The Wrong Guys is a 1988 comedy film directed by Danny Bilson (of Trancers fame) and starring Louie Anderson, Richard Lewis, Richard Belzer, Franklin Ajaye, Tim Thomerson, Ernie Hudson, Brion James and John Goodman.

In 1961, Louie, Richard, Belz, Franklin and Tim were close friends, all serving in the same Cub Scout troop (Den 7, Pack 18). As time passed, they went their separate ways - Louie is a kind-hearted man who still lives with his mother, Richard is now a neurotic dentist, Belz is an accesory designer specializing in belts, Franklin is a radio self-help guru, and Tim is a surf bum with a New Age girlfriend. At the insistence of Louie's mom, he organizes a reunion with his friends: a weekend camping trip at the site of their troop's greatest failure, Mt. Whitehead. Back in '61, the troop got hopelessly lost, leading to embarassment when their parents had to be called to find them. This trip is an attempt to prove to themselves that they can beat the mountain.

Unfortunately for them, their childhood bullies the Grunski brothers (who were drummed out of Den 7 for, among other things, shaving Louie's dog), have followed them along to give them their own brand of nostalgia. It gets even worse when escaped convict Duke Earle mistakes the guys for FBI agents hunting him down, and the reunion becomes a bullet-dodging run for their lives.

Tropes featured in The Wrong Guys include:

  • Actor Allusion: When Duke makes a Sarcastic Confession that a damaged bill was burnt in an armored car robbery, the clerk quips "Everybody's a comedian". The main cast of the film are indeed all comedians.
  • The Alleged Car: The Grunski's beat-up Cadillac. It's slow, beat to hell, and the primary color seems to be Bondo. Its destruction by rocket launcher seems almost like a Mercy Kill.
  • Ax-Crazy: Duke Earle.
  • Big Bad: Duke Earle, again.
  • Big Damn Heroes: See The Cavalry below.
  • The Cavalry: Doubles as a Call-Back. The guys' mothers subdue Duke Earle at the last moment, after the police don't believe Tim and he summons them. This mirrors the original trip to Mt. Whitehead in 1961, when the guys' mothers had to be called to find them.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The pack lost during the original trip.
    • The Grunski's snare trap. They use it to try and take down Duke at the end. It would have worked if it weren't for that pesky squirrel.
    • The pendant Tim's girlfriend gives him. He uses it as coinage for the phone at the ranger station to summon help.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Belz.
  • Disney Death: Tim is thought dead by the guys after going over a waterfall. He survives and gets help.
  • Doomed Defeatist: Richard Lewis plays this both as a kid, and as a grown-up. Which makes sense, since it was part of his stand-up routine.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Mark and Glen Grunski after they're reinstated to Den 7.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Despite being able to shoot a gun and, later, a spyglass out of people's hands, Duke Earle can't seem to hit the heroes with any of his weapons.
  • Inevitable Waterfall: "The wave that never ends!"
  • Insignia Ripoff Ritual: Of the Grunskis has a nightmare that they are kicked out of Den 7 by the other kids. Their patches are all ripped off. And then they are executed by firing squad. Likely a sign of guilt for bullying the others.
  • Medals for Everyone: Louie, Richard, Belz, Franklin, Tim, Mark and Glen are awarded the Arrow of Light, the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a Scout, by their old scoutmaster for their effort in taking down Duke Earle in a ceremony at the end of the film.
  • Mistaken for Feds: Den 7 and Section 7 of the FBI have very similar looking logos. Hence, when Duke sees the guys hoisting a flag at camp with their den logo on it...
  • More Dakka: Duke Earle is a strong believer in this trope. The man practically has a gun store in the back of his truck.
  • Murphy's Bed: Richard's cot, dubbed "The Cot From Hell" by him. He manages to tie it down to the tent, but after the tent collapses due to a flying ax blade, it snaps back up after a moment.
  • My Greatest Failure / My Greatest Second Chance: The scouts tried to camp on Mt. Whitehead in 1961, but misplaced their supply pack, got lost, and needed to call their moms for help. This weighs on Louie heavily, especially since it cost them the Arrow of Light. Two and a half decades later they are on the mountain again, find the pack, and Louie considers it a chance to finally "beat this goddamned mountain". They succeed and finally get their Arrows. Still had to call their moms, though.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted with Richard Lewis and Richard Belzer. The latter is consistently nicknamed Belz to avoid confusion.
  • Punny Name: Duke, Duke, Duke, Duke of Earle, Earle, Earle...
  • Sanity Slippage: Duke Earle falls victim to this due to rampant paranoia as the movie progresses.
  • Shown Their Work: Zig-zagged on the part of the filmmakers; the scout uniforms are correct, dens and packs are part of Cub Scouts, and the Arrow of Light is the highest award a Cub Scout can earn. However, troops and patrols are part of Boy Scouts, not cubs, and the actual requirements for earning the Arrow of Light are totally different than what is shown in the film. Also, the now grown-up Den 7 would not be given the Arrow as adults, although this was probably for ceremonial reasons, as a reward for stopping the Duke.
    • Not to mention, there's no way in hell a group of Cub Scouts would be allowed to camp, or do anything without any adult supervision.
  • Sickly Neurotic Geek: While Richard doesn't fit the sickly part, he fits the neurotic part to a T.
    Louie: I was the first of us to get Den Leader stripes. Richard was the first of us to see a psychiatrist.
  • Stealth Pun: During the scene in which we see Duke Earle for the first time, take a guess at what song is playing in the background.