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