Laura CliffordThe dreaded Nazi fighter command, the much-feared Ghost Squadron, has wreaked havoc on the American 950th bomber group in the skies over Europe. Intrepid Army intelligence analyst, Major Nick Reed (Patrick Muldoon), is given the daunting task of finding the secret German fighter base and destroy it before the Nazis can cause any more damage to our valiant aviators in “Military Intelligence and You!”
TV writer turned filmmaker, Dale Kutzera, makes his feature film debut as writer-director with a dead-on, laugh-my-ass-off military satire and broad comedy that is bound to offend the supporters of George W. Bush, his administration and his Iraq War policies. Military Intelligence and You!” will have great appeal, though, to anyone who loves old WWII-era V-for-Victory war flicks, US Army training films, a voice over narration that made me guffaw throughout and biting satire about our current political leaders and their policies. Kutzera wears his heart on his sleeve, sure, but it beats merrily away with its pleasure.
Military Intelligence and You!” begins as a WWII US Army training film but, as narrator Clive Van Owen points out early on, the people watching the film are not nearly as good looking as those in it. Van Owen keeps giving practical advice to the soldiers watching the training film, telling them that they will probably face terrible, anonymous, painful deaths instead of the heroic, painless deaths usually promised. It sounds awful but Kutzera makes it, and more, ironically funny.
This is a bare bones budget film but it looks and feels far more expensive for several reasons. The great selection of archival Army training films and Victory war films (such as the classic “Resisting Enemy Interrogation”) is a kick. The complex and intelligent editing that brings them together coherently (similar to “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid) is notable. And, the witty, satiric writing and funny tongue-in-cheek acting with new footage starring Reed and the ever-lovely Lt. Monica Tasty (Elizabeth Bennett) (I laugh every time I hear her name) round out this nice package. Writer/director Kutzera and his small but stalwart crew have created a military comedy that I compare to “Dr. Strangelove” for its understanding of satire and slapstick and knows when to use both.
The cast of the modern segment is well played across the board with Muldoon and Bennett joined by Mackenzie Astin as snide Major Mitch Dunning, the “nice guy” opposite Nick’s bad boy persona as they vie for Lt. Tasty’s affection. John Rixey Moore is amusing as the wants-to-do-the-right-thing General Jake Tasker and Eric Jugmann is funny as his beleaguered aide Corporal Skip Andrews. Older film fans may also recognize a few of the faces that show up in the actual Army training films and V-for-Victory features used – William Holden, Alan Ladd, Elisha Cook, Arthur Kennedy, Don Porter, Kent Smith and, oh yeah, an actor named Ronald Reagan made their contribution to the war effort.
High praise should be given to director Kutzera, editor Joseph Butler and cinematographer Mark Perry for their seamless contributions to the construction of “Military Intelligence and You!” Clive Van Owen deserves special note as the credited narrator who rivals the venerable Gary Owen from the 60’s TV variety show, “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In.” His deadpan delivery of the deadly reality of war for the viewing infantrymen and airmen is both funny and sad in its reality, especially today.
If you are looking for an imaginative, World War II-based spoof that is also current and fresh and politically incorrect, then you, like me, will love Military Intelligence and You!” I give it a solid B+ (and a half).
This one reminded me of "The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra" - goofy fun if a little too broad/heavy handed at times. In fact, it's as subtle as a sledge hammer. Elizabeth Bennett is excellent, though, very believable as a forties actress. B-
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