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Sgt. Bilko

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Sgt. Bilko

Starring: Steve Martin, Dan Aykroyd
Director: Jonathan Lynn
Rated: PG
RunTime: 92 Minutes
Release Date: March 1996
Genre: Comedy

*Also starring: Phil Hartman, Chris Rock, Glenne Headly, Eric Edwards, Max Casella, Dan Ferro, John Marshall Jones, Brian Leckner

Review by Andrew Hicks
2 stars out of 4

I have to admit that, despite all the endless hours I've spent watching sitcom reruns on cable, I've never seen an episode of "Sgt. Bilko." It's probably better that I haven't, though, because I'm sure this movie pales in comparison. Still, I've seen every episode of "Saturday Night Live" and enjoy the work of the three "SNL" stars who carry the SGT. BILKO movie -- Steve Martin, Dan Aykroyd and Phil Hartman. It's still no guarantee that the name of those three on a movie marquee means an entertaining film experience. I need only cite the titles A SIMPLE TWIST OF FATE, DOCTOR DETROIT and HOW I GOT INTO COLLEGE for evidence of that.

Martin plays the one-note Bilko character, a money-obsessed finagler who secretly runs gambling and laundering operations on the barracks. Aykroyd plays the one-note general character, who manages to overlook the rampant corruption due to Bilko's profuse ass-kissing. Hartman plays the one-note bastard character who is out for revenge against Bilko. The plot basically has Hartman trying to trip up Bilko, with Bilko continually outwitting him.

That includes having Bilko's platoon audited by two accountant dorks (including fellow "SNL" alum Chris Rock), Hartman and Aykroyd popping in for a surprise inspection at the worst possible time, Hartman trying to romance Bilko's longsuffering fiance (Glenn Headly) and a bunch of crap involving the $70 million hovertank the Bilko platoon was supposed to be building. The lone voice of dissent amidst the Bilko platoon amid all this criminal activity is a new recruit who is actually serious about defending American liberty. Rest assured by the end of the movie he too will abandon that antiquated notion and begin living off government money like the rest of the platoon. Yeah, a real happy ending.

SGT. BILKO isn't a decent comeback vehicle for Martin or Aykroyd, who both give mediocre, walk-through performances, but at least Hartman shows talent amid the ninety minutes of mindless entertainment, most of which is contrived and unoriginal. The movie does have its share of laughs, though, and is fun to watch most of the time. Even so, I'm about ready for the Army Comedy genre to die out. In this day and age, it comes off as lame and unnecessary, kind of like the real Army. (No flame mail on that one, please, militarists.)

Copyright 1996 Andrew Hicks

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