Sgt. Bilko

"Movie Magazine International" Review

(Air Date: Week Of 3/27/96)

By John A. Lavin

So, what's the story with Steve Martin? His "arrow through the head" days well behind him, he had embarked on a career track that included movies like "Parenthood", "Grand Canyon", and "Simple Twist of Fate" (I was probably the only person in America to see that little "gem") entitling him to the honor of being "Mr. Sensitive" to his peers, namely, the Yuppie generation.

But now, he's returned to the days of yore, with a rehash of that late fifties Phil Silvers army show, "Sgt. Bilko". Like the show, the movie is about the various misadventures of an army sargeant and his cronies as they endeavor to rob the army blind and hustle as much money out of their comrades as is humanly possible. Bilko runs everything out of the camp's motorpool, and his life is filled with hedonistic joy. His bumbling commanding officer, played by Dan Ackroyd, is totally in the dark, and his girlfriend is as much in love with playing cards as she is with him.

Yes, everything's just hunky-dory until Bilko's mortal enemy Major Thorn shows up. Played with all sorts of venom by Phil Hartman, Thorn makes it his life's work to get Bilko, any way he can. Gee, do you think Bilko will get shipped off to Greenland, or will he defeat the evil plans of Major Thorn? Does anyone care?

As you might imagine, this movie features just about every cliche imaginable. The platoon is filled with all the requisite 'buck privates" necessary for any army flick: there's the fat guy, the Mexican guy, the combination Asian guy, the black guy, the computer nerd, the woman, and of course, the gung-ho guy. They get up late, play golf all over the base, have an off track betting system, and rehash just about every gag from every "funny army" picture of the last fifty years.

So, will you hate "Sgt. Bilko"? If you're a Steve Martin fan, probably not. He's easily the best part of a thoroughly average movie, jumping around and delivering all of the physical comedy a fan of his could want. But if you're looking for a rollicking bit of jocularity at the movies, don't take orders from "Sgt. Bilko".

Copyright 1996 John A. Lavin

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