For whatever reason when someone suggested I watch the Iranian film Men at Work, I assumed it would be a serious, brooding drama.
This is the beauty of not doing your homework before taking the test: you end up being delightfully surprised by a satirical allegorical comedy. Even though I was prepared for the opposite, subtle and clever humor tasted pretty delicious instead.
Four old friends are driving back from a skiing trip when they randomly come across a bizarre, impossibly positioned rock at the edge of a cliff. They try to push it off for no other reason but for their own entertainment and yet it will not budge no matter what. It must be connected to something, they assume, and yet after further research that isn't the case.
These men can't give it up. They can't move on. Finding a way to move it becomes an obsession.
The rock sure is phallic looking and watching these four men furiously try to push it around is a lot more fascinating than it sounds like on paper, as I can imagine telling people to watch a movie about dudes trying to push a rock over doesn't scream with entertainment appeal. I was reminded of the recent Oscar nominated feature Wild Tales, more specifically of just one of the segments of that work involving two men in a road rage encounter, an example of the absurdity of male testosterone leading to reckless and irrational decision making. Men at Work is absolutely similar thematically, as I kept thinking, just move on with your lives. Just drive home and forget about this rock, yet the men absolutely could not. How idiotic is it to have to prove your physical strength in order to be considered a man?
A gigantic rock penis ascends from seemingly nowhere and these four men are intimidated by it. They must find a way to knock it down, even when it wastes all of their time and risks their safety to do so.
Overall I still felt Men at Work was a bit light in material, even for a mere 75 minutes, as it felt like a concept that would have been brilliant for a short 30 to 45 minutes rather than at feature length, but I was still amused by the extremely clever yet simplistic concept and I admire a film from a culture that isn't used to portraying their characters in this way breaking through the typical stereotypes.