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

RogerEbert.com

Thumb can forgive

Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Can You Ever Forgive Me? comes from a place of understanding and love that few other biopics do, and it makes this difficult character a…

Thumb halloween poster

Halloween

Do you know the biggest sin of the new Halloween? It’s just not scary. And that’s one thing you could never say about the original.

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…

Other Reviews
Great Movie 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).

Advertisement

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

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

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

Netflix’s Terrifying, Moving The Haunting of Hill House is Essential Viewing

A review of Mike Flanagan's new horror series based on the Shirley Jackson novel, The Haunting of Hill House.

Always Leave 'Em Laughing: Peter Bogdanovich on Buster Keaton, superheroes, television, and the effect of time on movies

Peter Bogdanovich, film historian and filmmaker, talks about Buster Keaton, the subject of his new documentary.

Why The Godfather, Part II is the Best of the Trilogy

A look back at one of the best films of all time.

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus