In the Army Now (1994)

8 Apr

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Smith’s Verdict: **1/2

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

Pauly Shore may have played some unforgivably irritating characters, but in “In the Army Now,” in which he’s “in the army now,” he shows what he can accomplish when he’s kept in check. Well, we see that he can be a charming, less irritating, and, yes, even funny personality. His character may not have grown in “In the Army Now,” but he, as an actor, has.

Pauly Shore plays a salesman named Bones who has just been fired. So he and his roommate (Andy Dick) need to find a job and fast. They decide to join the Army Reserves because they hear you can get paid for doing practically nothing. So they go through the Military Haircut, in which Pauly Shore loses his precious curly hair (I love his reaction to his hair being gone afterwards), and then it’s off to training camp. But luckily, they’re trained by a sexy female drill sergeant (Lynn Whitfield). Then, Bones and his buddy Jack are joined by Lori Petty and David Alan Grier on a water purification team. But pretty soon, they’re called to Libya to supply water to the Special Forces during a Desert War.

“In the Army Now” has the ingredients of a fresh comedy. But “In the Army Now” is not in the same league as “Stripes,” which has a similar theme (that was a better movie starring Bill Murray). This movie is trying to be another star vehicle for Pauly Shore and a new, hipper version of “Stripes.” It works well right up until the hour-point, in which Shore and his friends are lost in the Libyan Desert and forced to strike a Libyan military base. That’s a shame because the jokes were funny and the characters were charming. I would’ve wanted them to keep on their own base and still be who they were. But then when they hit the desert, the movie turns on autopilot.

The sequence at basic training is fun—the biggest laugh comes when the female drill sergeant adjusts Bones’ pants after Bones dishevels his own uniform—but there really doesn’t seem to be a payoff. What I think is the best thing about “In the Army Now” is that these characters are nice people and a lot of fun. They’re funny and charming at the same time. Lori Petty, in particular, has a charisma that seems genuine as a G.I. Jane who is tough and sexy. And David Alan Grier is probably the funniest person in the movie.

“In the Army Now” has a fresh and funny movie in its first hour. With its final half, it seems as if the screenwriters stopped trying and gave us a typical “war hero” ending. I wanted more comedy that worked—not a lame vulture joke, not an impossible way of describing how you can get more water by filling up jacket sleeves with water, not Pauly Shore saying, “We’re the few! The proud! The water boys!” I wanted “In the Army Now” to have more charm. And Pauly Shore showed that he could improve as a comic actor…if only he continued along this path instead of the dreadful “Bio-Dome.”

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