In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_hunting_ground

The Hunting Ground

The Hunting Ground could have been a series of disturbing statistics and personal stories, but the directors know that it is the survivors who are…

Thumb_maps_to_the_stars_ver8

Maps to the Stars

David Cronenberg's film of Bruce Wagner's Hollywood satire-nightmare turns ludicrous situations into operatic tragedy.

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb_xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Thumb_jrluxpegcv11ostmz1fqha1bkxq

Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Chaz's Blog Archives
Other Articles
Blog Archives

Reviews

In The Army Now

In The Army Now Movie Review
  |  

We were about halfway into "In the Army Now" when I realized the movie's secret ambition, which was to be nice. It's a movie about a misfit who finds himself in the Army - the kind of setup that lends itself to the barbed satire of the Bill Murray movie "Stripes." I was waiting for the barbs and they weren't coming and to my amazement I realized the movie wanted basically to be an innocent, childlike adventure.

The star is Pauly Shore, a curly-haired comedian who comes across like a skinny Richard Simmons and whose characters are never the slightest bit brighter than the screenplay absolutely demands. He plays an incompetent clerk in an electronics store who gets fired and decides, with his buddy Jack (Andy Dick) to join the Army Reserves - because, hey, after all, they like pay you money for like doing practically nothing, right? The movie comes to life during a basic training sequence in which the boys draw a sexy female drill sergeant (Lynn Whitfield).

The biggest laugh comes after she adjusts a trainee's uniform and Shore quickly dishevels his own, so she'll tug on his pants, too. The scene doesn't have a payoff, but, hey, the setup is fun. Shore and Dick join Lori Petty and David Alan Grier on a water purification team, and are amazed when a crisis breaks out in Libya, and they find themselves in the middle of a potentially deadly situation.

The screenplay, work by five writers, based on a story by three others, seems to have been rewritten often enough that any individuality has been lost. It's by a committee and about a committee; the most-used phrase of dialogue is, "Hey, you guys!" The bad guys are of course all Arabs, Hollywood's flavor of the year in villains. But they aren't really bad, because the movie doesn't care that much. Most of the war scenes consist of the four heroes slogging through the sand exchanging rueful one-liners and low-key observations. I was waiting for comedy and got whimsy.

The movie clocks in at 92 minutes, not time enough to explain why the Arabs didn't notice anything when U.S. troops parachuted two dune buggies, machine guns and supplies to Shore and his buddies, immediately outside an enemy camp. Nor time enough to explain such strange details as the Petty character's conviction that if you tear off a shirt sleeve you can use it to carry water in.

Maybe the point of the Pauly Shore character is that he's cool and unengaged most of the time. Bombs explode all around him, but he's laid back and doesn't let anything get to him. Instead of laughs, we get to see him having a good time. Lost in the desert, he has lines like, "We are the few, the proud, the water boys." As they slog through the sand, a vulture follows them, and eventually I began to identify with the vulture, which seemed to be hanging around in case anyone thought of any vulture jokes.

Popular Blog Posts

Notes on watching "Aliens" for the first time again, with a bunch of kids

Captain's log: eight fifth graders, one adult, one James Cameron movie.

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

Now, "Voyager": in praise of the Trekkiest "Trek" of all

As we mourn Abrams’ macho Star Trek obliteration, it’s a good time to revisit that most Star Trek-ian of accomplishme...

Observations of an Awards Season Skeptic, Part 4: Green Card Blues

Glenn Kenny comments on awards season, Sean Penn, Neil Patrick Harris, and the actual Oscars.

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus