Written by / 6/27/2012 / No comments / , , , , , , , , ,

NINETIES REBOOT SMACKDOWN: MCHALE'S NAVY VS SGT. BILKO

 year: 1997 cast: Tom Arnold, Dean Stockwell rating: ***
IN THIS CORNER… MCHALE’S NAVY starring Tom Arnold, more of a breezy action film than a comedy... and the action’s pretty decent.

Arnold, a horrible actor whilst married to Rosanne Barr, provided a miraculous turn in James Cameron’s TRUE LIES and, with feet firmly planted into Hollywood’s soil, became a passable "leading man." Not all his roles were very special (and his ride didn't last long) but he’s pretty natural as the deal-making ex-Navy officer who’s turned the tropical island barracks into his very own garage sale. He’s got McHale’s brand ice cream, beer, whiskey and just about everything while his buddies live a permanent vacation – sounds perfect, right? Well not when Dean Stockwell’s antagonistic Navy Admiral shows up and puts McHale’s business to rest. But the real bad guy’s none other than eyebrow-wielding Tim Curry – a second rate terrorist who takes over half the island where native kids play baseball. He’s got a really cool supersonic speedboat loaded with big guns, and McHale’s sloppy straw-roof yacht is no match. One scene has McHale’s men, including Bruce Campbell and David Allen Grier (unsuccessfully taking the Tim Conway role), party in Cuba leading to a bar fight and is a pretty good time. But there’s a downside to all the running around – we need a few laughs and one-liners from funnier characters. Ernest Borgnine, the original McHale, makes an appearance as the Pentagon General in charge of everything: and there's a twist...

year: 1996 cast: Steve Martin, Dan Aykroyd, Phil Hartman  rating: **
AND IN THIS CORNER: SGT. BILKO (also based on a classic TV series) runs the Army motor pool like his very own casino.

Seen through the eyes of a new recruit mechanic with an annoying penchant for honesty, we see all the wily goings-on: from poker games to a wrestling match between a fat dude and a horse. Steve Martin throws all his rubbery physical hijinks into the same pot and comes across as a hyperactive game show host rather than a Navy con artist. And Phil Hartman’s commander provides the antagonists: a former rival of Bilko, he’s returned from Iceland with one goal: change the party-hardy unit into a well-oiled machine. Too soon we’re thrust into the lovable slobs having to deal with an adversary. The good times don’t roll long enough until the audience, like the characters herein, have to end the party. And despite stale jokes, boring side-characters (including a tubby Dan Aykroyd), a pointless subplot about a hovering tank, and Bilko's put-upon love interest, it’s not much of a party to begin with.

THE DECISION: Although Bilko scores a few points for coming out a year earlier, McHale knocks him out with ease!!!
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