Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Sgt. Bilko

Sgt Bilko was released in 1996. The movie was based on a television series from the 1950s about a con artist Sergeant in the Motor Pool who has the Army wrapped around his little finger. In order to ensure that they got the most comedy out of this throw back script, they enlisted the aid of several Saturday Night Live alumni. The movie covers a lot of ground in a very short period of time. A new motor pool soldier arrives on base just in time to learn all about Sgt Bilko's many shenanigans, find out that the base might be closed, help fake a floating tank project, and attend a wedding...or not.

Sgt Bilko is a difficult movie to write about. I recently watched it again and remembered how funny this movie really was. But I don't think it was very well received when it was released. The failure of this movie to have made an impact on the movie world probably had a lot to do with the fact that the plot was very weak, the special effects were equally cheesy and they were trying to stay true to a character that had existed four decades earlier.

The plot in this movie is rather non-existent. Sgt Bilko "framed" a guy that was trying to expose his illegal activity...only to have the guy show back up on base with the power to shut the base down. Bilko's future relies heavily on the ability of the men to rescue a tank project that doesn't work, and to cover for "inconsistencies" in Sgt Bilko's log books (and computers). The plot is weak and the characters are very one dimensional. That isn't uncommon in comedy films. What is uncommon is that a weak comedy script can make you laugh without the usual potty jokes or cheap shots. Zany antics reminiscent of older comedy as well as Saturday Night Live chemistry make this movie. Although it is slow at times, the laughs are abundant.

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