In the Army Now Recap

Jamie

Bones and Jack are a couple of slackers with big dreams for an electronics store. To pursue this they accept an easy check from the National Guard assuming they would never see action. Wrong. They are immediately called into Chad on the verge of war. Can these unlikely heroes save the day (and perhaps get the girl) before it’s too late? Find out in… In the Army Now.

How?! Bones and Jack are a couple of cra-a-a-zy boys (to use their parlance) who are fired from their job at an electronics store for mostly being slackers. Immature dreamers, they have hopes of opening their own electronics store, but don’t have the money (or talent, really). Enter the National Guard, which will pay them some money to be weekend warriors. Once they are in the army they are confronted with the harsh realities of boot camp. They probably goof off and almost get kicked out, right? Wrong. They are model soldiers and grow into more responsible adults. In fact, after they leave boot camp for the water purification unit they are top of their class with their teammates Fred and Christine. Upon graduation they revert to their immature, partying ways until they are shockingly called up to the front lines of a potential war in Chad. After attempting to get out of deployment through pure, distilled homophobia, they finally accept their mission. In Chad things get tough when Bones is targeted and harassed by a macho special forces soldier… and then even tougher when their truck breaks down during a mission… and then even tougher when Bones drives them into the desert where their other truck gets stuck… and then even tougher when they wander through the desert on the verge of death. But through his leadership they are able to make it to an oasis… but then it gets tough again when they are captured by Libyan forces. At the Libyan base they find the special forces soldier injured and they all manage to escape during an air strike. Finding some sweet dune buggies dropped for the special forces they are ready to leave Libya, but are ordered back to complete the mission of taking out the Libyan chemical weapons. During the dangerous mission Bones leads the group to victory and the missiles are destroyed. Back home they open their electronics store and show how much the Army helped them be all that they can be. THE END.

Why?! That sweet green, duh. One interesting aspect of the film is that Bones and Jack are immature and all that, but once they actually join the army they are pretty immediately improved for the better. We are supposed to see them backslide into their immature ways when first called up to Chad, but the rest of the film they are not just competent, but perfectly good at their jobs. Even when they are put in a horrific position by the Army, they step-up and get it done. Afterwards they have improved so much on a personal and professional level that I actually did believe they had a decent shot at making the electronics store work.

Who?! This is, of course, the last film in which Bredan Fraser appeared as his star-making character Link. A main character in Encino Man, he then shows up for cameos in both Son in Law and then this film. Hasn’t aged particularly well at this point… I’d love to see someone’s reaction to that now if they had never seen (or probably heard) of Encino Man… I know, hard to believe, but I imagine that the youngsters these days aren’t popping down to Hollywood Video to grab a copy of that comedy gem.

What?! This is one giant advertisement for the military, which is a bit difficult to swallow. It’s even mentioned in a paper about the propaganda model in Hollywood. The paper argues that despite the reputation of Hollywood as liberal, pretty much every film about the military is primarily pro-military. Given this film, I tend to agree.

Where?! This is what this whole cycle was built for. Starting in California (and then likely moving from there to Oklahoma for basic training), we end up shipping off to Chad… what are the chances? The characters ping pong between there and Libya for pretty much the rest of the film. Interesting that it even has a role to play in the plot, as Lori Petty’s character mentions she chose water purification as a specialty because of the likely war in Chad and the need for such a service. Gotta give it an A just for that.

When?! I honestly don’t know. This is one of those films where there is a good chance there is some hidden information regarding when it takes place, but it’s not apparent for the viewer. Our only recourse is to get an original print of the film and scour the high-definition stills for the evidence. Until then this is an F.

This is… not a funny movie. Kinda hamstrings it for anyone who would even try to say it’s good. I’m not one of those people. It’s certainly not an offensive movie… or at least I wasn’t offended by how bad it was. It does have a pretty gross homophobic scene in the middle, though, where Bones and Jack try to get out of going to Chad by pretending to be lovers. Unconvinced, the commander requests that they kiss to prove it (even more offensive) at which point Bones and Jack resign themselves to the possibility that they may die. But besides that it flows along with Jack and Bones proving at each step that they are learning and maturing due to the time spent in the military. Overall, it’s impossible to say that I enjoyed the movie. To say that would be to say that I like not funny and periodically offensive “comedies”… but I guess I didn’t think it was the worst. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Amazingly we never watched a Shore film in the 500+ films for BMT. He was a star that shone so bright for an instant, and this is probably the least popular of his five major films. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – I’ve (obviously) seen all of the Pauly Shore starring vehicles growing up given that I was his target demo in 1995 … except for this one. Until now. All I really knew about In the Army Now was that it was never really on television and seemed boring whenever I happened across it. Funny enough the notes suggest Pauly Shore’s agents were like “don’t do this, just be the weasel. Being something you aren’t is going to ruin your career” … and I distinctly remember just not being interested in the film partially because it didn’t really seem like a Pauly Shore film. Sounds like his agents nailed it. What were my expectations? To be bored. There was very little going for this. It isn’t that it is the worst Shore film of that era (that would be interesting). It is that it is the most uninteresting of the five films he starred in.

The Good – Weirdly, after a bit of a rough start, this film is probably Shore at his most charming. The weasel character is only funny when you are like 10 years old. As an adult I’m sure I would find Jury Duty and Bio-Dome especially grating. But here he seems like just a vaguely silly dude? It oddly works in what is mostly just a not very funny and not very interesting film. I thought the ensemble of Shore, Dick, Grier, and Petty was actually very cool. They work as a bunch of misfits who mature in the context of army training. Which brings me to the army storyline. It’s propaganda and a bit odd … but it is nice to see an anti-Stripes. Instead of the army changing to accommodate the silly slacker, the silly slacker matures to fit the army. I’ll get back to that in my You Just Got Schooled section.

The Bad – The film isn’t funny. Not at any moment. The film is also too obviously propaganda. That is the danger with going with that anti-Stripes track. Stripes, by making the army change to accomodate Bill Murray, ends up very earnestly poking fun at the U.S. military and thus doesn’t feel like propaganda. In the Army Now just feels like the message is “the army will mature you and make you a better person … join the army.” Just how mustache-twirling-ly evil the Libyans are in the film is also a little off. It doesn’t quite have the same amusing Cold War era needling of the Russians. Much like all of 90s U.S. foreign policy, it feels like they were just searching for a villain to fit the bill. What else … I mean the film is boring and unfunny, would not recommend. The end.

The BMT – We’ll finish off the Pauly Shore films eventually. That is the BMT legacy. And obviously the mapl.d.map aspect. There is very little chance another film will come along which takes place predominantly in Chad. So it’ll always have that going for it. As a matter of fact, it is possible this is the greatest obscure BMT setting we’ve ever had. I just wish the film was just a bit more good-bad. Did it meet my expectations? Yup, this film is almost precisely what I expected (except Shore being a competent soldier, that was unexpected). Unfunny, but it’s biggest crime is just being uninteresting. There are worse Shore films, and more entertaining Shore films, better Shore films, and weirder Shore films … this is the “other” Shore film.

Roast-radamus – I think this falls into a different category where a “team” is built. This is a decent team building movie. There is an odd Product Placement (What?) I think with the video game (3DO) playing at the top of the film … also it is a giant advertisement for the military as well. Obviously one of the greatest Setting as a Character (Where?) films as the film’s plot centers around an invasion of Chad. Otherwise I don’t think it’ll really have a chance at anything else … but hey, I think it has pretty good odds of snagging the Where? crown at the end of the year.

StreetCreditReport.com – It is amazing. Not only is the film not featured on any worst of lists for 1994 (including the Stinkers which gives dishonorable mentions to a ton of films), but I couldn’t even find it mentioned on worst military film lists! I think if I were to guess, it is because Son-in-Law was so well received, and the film doesn’t seem like a true travesty. Jury Duty would crater Shore’s career only one year later, so if anything this film only primed critics to wonder whether Shore had overstayed his welcome as a comedy star.

You Just Got Schooled – All of the reviews of this film focused on how this was very much not Stripes. If I hadn’t seen Stripes I would have watched that. Given that I had though I had to go a little deeper into the military comedy well: Private Benjamin. And there was a lot more in common with In the Army Now than I would have thought, particularly how Goldie Hawn matures via her training instead of the Army molding around her particular quirks. The movie itself has a strong performance by Hawn, but is very very scattered. The best bits are the basic training sequences in the middle third of the film. Then the film goes off the rails, with Hawn rising through the ranks extremely quickly, almost getting raped by her superior, parlaying that into an engagement to a rich French man, and then the film just ends with her breaking off the engagement leaving her out of the army and on the outs with her family … like what? Stripes also goes off the rails in the third act, so maybe this is just a military comedy thing. But in the end Hawn’s performance isn’t enough for me to actually recommend the film to anyone. So, much like with the In the Army Now reviews, just watch Stripes. It probably is the best military comedy ever made. C.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

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