Renaissance Man

Last Updated on: June 26th, 2024

Renaissance Man (Touchstone Movie)

“Renaissance Man” is a comedy-drama film released in 1994, directed by Penny Marshall. The movie stars Danny DeVito as Bill Rago, a down-on-his-luck advertising executive who is fired from his job. In desperate need of employment, he reluctantly takes a temporary position as a military basic training instructor at a U.S. Army base.

At the base, Rago is assigned to a group of young soldiers who have repeatedly failed the Army’s literacy test. He is initially disinterested in teaching, but as he gets to know the soldiers and their struggles, he decides to take a different approach to inspire and educate them.

Rago introduces unconventional teaching methods, using his advertising background to make literature and Shakespeare more relatable to the soldiers. He encourages them to express themselves creatively through writing and performance, leading to a transformational journey for both the instructor and his students.

Throughout the film, Rago’s experiences with the soldiers lead to moments of comedy, camaraderie, and personal growth. The soldiers, in turn, teach him valuable life lessons and help him rediscover his passion for teaching.

“Renaissance Man” explores themes of education, self-discovery, and the power of inspiration and mentorship. The film underscores the importance of finding purpose in unexpected places and highlights the potential for growth and self-improvement even in challenging circumstances.

Danny DeVito delivers a charismatic and heartwarming performance as Bill Rago, portraying a man who evolves from being cynical and self-absorbed to becoming a dedicated and caring mentor. The ensemble cast, including Mark Wahlberg, Stacey Dash, and Kadeem Hardison, brings a diverse and relatable group of soldiers to life.

While “Renaissance Man” received mixed reviews from critics upon its release, it has since become a beloved touchstone for fans of inspirational comedies. The film’s positive message, engaging performances, and the uplifting power of education and artistry make it a heartwarming and motivational cinematic experience.

Additional Details


  • Danny DeVito: Bill Rago
  • Gregory Hines: Sergeant First Class Cass
  • James Remar: Captain Tom Murdoch
  • Cliff Robertson: Colonel James
  • Ed Begley Jr.: Jack Markin
  • Lillo Brancato, Jr.: Private Donnie Benitez (Horatio)
  • Stacey Dash: Private Miranda Myers (Ophelia)
  • Kadeem Hardison: Private Jamaal Montgomery (Ghost of Hamlet’s Father)
  • Richard T. Jones: Corporal Jackson Leroy (Laertes)
  • Khalil Kain: Private Roosevelt (Nathaniel) Hobbs (Hamlet)
  • Peter Simmons: Private Brian Davis, Jr. (Queen Gertrude)
  • Gregory Sporleder: Private Melvin Melvin (Polonius)
  • Mark Wahlberg: Private Tommy Lee Haywood (King Claudius)
  • Alanna Ubach: Emily Rago
  • Isabella Hofmann: Marie


  • Director: Penny Marshall
  • Producers: Sara Colleton, Elliot Abbott, Penny Marshall, Robert Greenhut and Andrew Vanja
  • Writer: Jim Burnstein
  • Music: Hans Zimmer

Movie Trailer:

About the Author

Craig Smith
I am founder and editor of My passion for all things Disney goes pretty far back to my first trip to Walt Disney World in the mid-80's. I have since returned to the magical place more than 20 times. I started this site when I came to the realization that I spent a significant portion of my day reading articles about Disney and watching Disney content with my 8-year old, so it made sense that I would start sharing some of what I read and see and building a little community around it. Other interests include 80's nostalgia, vintage toys, video games, LEGO, Star Wars and tech gadgets. Other sites include DMR and