Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Art of the Military Comedy

Yesterday while rearranging my DVD shelves, I noticed I had a very strange section. Most people organize films in the common ways - alphabetically, perhaps by genre - comedy, romance, etc. Well I found that, without really noticing, I had made myself a "Military Comedy" section. Specific, ain't it? I also noticed that the three films I subconciously kept side by side were all complete flops that most people hated. Shocker - loved 'em all. Interesting point - they're all 90s flicks.

Firstly, we have Sgt Bilko (1996). Steve Martin is a comedic god, and dontchoo argue me on that one. His portrayal in this tv-to-movie flick about a way-too-laid-back, gambling, profiteering Sargeant is absolutely hilarious. With one liners like this and this, the script was witty, light, and fun. Shenanigans gallore, people! Also some great peeps in supporting roles, like Dan Aykroyd, Phil Hartman and Chris Rock.

Although Bilko is breakin' all the rules and making a joke out of military service (and breaking some laws, no doubt) you are totally rooting for him to succeed in all his hyjinkses (spelling?) and hatin' on the uptight jerks trying to ruin his fun. *fist shake*
Check out Sgt Bilko and his "soldiers" as they execute a last minute cover-up of their tomfoolery. Great word.


And now I'll burst any credibility I might have had by expressing my love for another 90s classic, starring none other than Mr. Pauly Shore, the weasle himself. In The Army Now (1994) is about two slacker losers (Andy Dick as the sidekick) who join the Army Reserves in hopes of doing bugger all. They get called into desert action as the water purifying unit and guess what? Shenaynays!

Again, this wasn't meant to win Oscars. What ya gotta remember, my people, is that you gotta judge a movie on what it was trying to achieve - NOT compare it against every other movie. You can't look at a Pauly Shore flick and be like - "Well this was terrible... just look how great Casablanca was! This doesn't hold a candle to that!" At least that's my philosophy when judging a film.

Shore went for cheesarific nonsense, and that's what he delivered. Here... have a taste. It goes down so smooth.


And lastly, we have Kelsey Grammar's attempt to get away from the book-worm intellectual image of Frasier. Down Periscope (1996) is another one of those critically bashed gems that I've rewatched countless times.

Lieutenant Commander Tom Dodge (Grammar) is another way-too-lax military leader who prefers having fun with his crew instead of disciplining them. After being told by his superior (a nice little role for William H. Macy) that his career is sinking (haha get it?) he is informed he will be given command of his own submarine. YAY! That is until he finds out it's a relic diesel sub from WWII. Dodge's assignment? Think like a pirate during a round of war games. This turns out to be fairly easy given the crew of assholes and misfits assigned to his sub. Enter the hilarious supporting cast as the seamen, and Harland Williams as the quirky sonar reading guy (very technical) named Sonar. Clever.

Pardon the crappy quality here (it ain't MY video) but I just HAD to share this particular scene, in which the sub is hiding from its nuclear-powered enemy during the war game, and they must keep total silence. To confuse enemy sonar, Dodge is trying to signal to Sonar to play his tapes of whale songs. And this is the result.

Others I haven't seen yet but am looking for in bargain bins: Major Payne (1995), McHale's Navy (1997), Good Morning Vietnam (1987).

Do you have any fave military comedies?

1 comment:

Jonathan said...

I love private benjamin!! :)