Jack Choo Eng Aun
Directed by : Jonathan Lynn
Written by : Andy Breckman (Based on the 50's TV sitcom)
Cast : Steve Martin (Sgt. Ernest Bilko), Dan Ackroyd (Colonel Hall), Phil Hartman (Major Thorn), Gleane Headly (Rita Robbins), Daryl Mitchell (Wally Holbrook)
Produced by : Universal Studios
Running Time : 92 minutes
Rating : ** out of *****
Theatres : Cathay/Golden Village
STEVE MARTIN SHINES BUT SGT.BILKO FAILS TO IMPRESS
Based on the popular 50's sitcom, SGT. BILKO follows the string of old-sitcoms-to-movie conversion fever. Remember THE BRADY BUNCH MOVIE or THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES released sometime back? (BRADY BUNCH was a moderate hit in in the US while HILLBILLIES flopped). I do not really know whether the Hollywood minds are running out of good ideas or just being plain lazy, but the TV-conversion-movies are hitting our screens like wildfire, sad to say, with mixed success. Such movies are mostly targeted at US viewers since they are usually followings of such series over there and the larger the following, the more likely the sitcom will be made into a movie. SGT. BILKO (frankly, I have not seen any its original TV version), even with the charm and wild antics of funnymen Steve Martin and Dan Akroyd; failed to entertain.
Sgt. Ernest Bilko is the man behind the motor pool (place of vehicle storage and repair) of Fort Baxter. Though totally unskilled in the field of work that he is supposed to be in charge of, he has an almost superhuman ability and zeal to sniff out money-making opportunities; from running a gambling den in the military garage to 4-D pools. Though materialistic in mind, Bilko's methods has thoughtfully 'enriched' the lives of the men of Fort Baxter, providing them with some form of real recreation within the camp and the people love him for that. Colonel Hall runs the entire fort and thanks to his inborn `blissfully-confused' state, Bilko has managed to hide his operation, though nearly every living person in the fort knows about it. Bilko's state of ascent is suddenly under-fire when the Pentagon sends Major Thorn, a tough cookie on army regulations, to check on the progress on the $70 million Hovertank project, a new weapon under development within the fort's grounds. To add to his problems, Thorn is determined to bring Bilko down in retaliation of a major 'sabo' done on him by Bilko during their younger army days.
Director Jonathan Lynn, who directed MY COUSIN VINNY (In which Marisa Tomei won an oscar for best-supporting actress) managed to pull SGT. BILKO through with suitable pacing and some exceptional moments of laughter, but that is about it. There are really not enough laughter-packed-moments in SGT. BILKO to fully entertain the average movie-goer. Still, Steve Martin's Sgt. Bilko is played with finesse and full-force by the renowned comedian. Without him, SGT. BILKO would have just fallen flat on its face. SGT. BILKO did moderately well in the US box office early this year but I doubt it will earn much elsewhere around the world.
The current trend in mixed successes in such TV-conversions may be a blessing in disguise, really; at least it will force Hollywood to re-think any of its initial intentions to turn another TV-idea into a movie or at the very least approach those ideas with more creativity.
Unless you are a fan of the TV-series or love to watch Steve Martin in action, you can skip this one when deciding which movie to catch in the local theares. I'm sure there are better ones around.
THE FLYING INKPOT's RATING SYSTEM:
* Wait for the video.
** A little creaky, but still better than staying at home with Gotcha!
*** Pretty good, bring a friend.
**** Amazing, potent stuff.
***** Perfection. See it twice.
Jack Choo is currently not doing anything harmful. He comes from Ipoh, Perak, allegedly the home of "the BEST hor-fun in the world!".
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