Film Scouts Reviews

"McHale's Navy"

by Leslie Rigoulot

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There are quite a few remakes that have turned out to be very funny when I thought for sure they would flop. I had sort of hoped that "McHale's Navy" would be one of them. I had had my doubts about Tom Arnold, but he turned out to be a great sidekick in "True Lies" and "Nine Months". However, here he has the lead and it is a disaster.

The world's second greatest terrorist (Tim Curry) is taking over an island in the Caribbean for what reason we never really find out, and the only person capable of stopping him is local wheeler-dealer, the retired McHale, Tom Arnold. Up until now life has just been great for the seven dwarfs, I mean the sailors of San Ysidro: Gruber, Christy, Willie, Virgil and Happy. But then Dean Stockwell raises his voice three octaves and arrives as Capt. Binghampton with the lovely Debra Messing as his adjutant, Lt. Carpenter. The bumbling Ensign Parker role doesn't even give the talented David Alan Grier much of a chance to fill Tim Conway's old shoes.

The problem is that when the jokes are as flat as two-day old Coke, your mind has time to think about all the plot incongruities too. They are buying arms in Cuba! The Cobra command needs time to get to the Caribbean when it is only two hours away? Why is the admiral wearing aviator wings? Why are Parker and Binghampton wearing parachute wings? Why is Tom Arnold's character the only one with correct insignia? How did the kid get on the boat and why? If he jammed the rocket launch......well, you get the idea. And under the category of "things I didn't really want to know", my husband informs me that this notion of widow's not receiving benefits because the military couldn't acknowledge someone's mission is pure balderdash: they are called "training accidents" and the widow gets survivors benefits. What a relief. BTW, this is the same production company, The Bubble Factory, that gave us last year's "Flipper", so don't go expecting a recreation of your favorite old-time TV show, even though you do see Ernest Borgnine. Rated PG. Universal.

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