Movie Review: Sgt. Bilko (1996)

Synopsis: Master Sergeant Ernest Bilko, runs a successful gambling operation out of the motor pool at Fort Baxter Army base and has the commanding officer, Col. Hall, wrapped around his finger. However, this is all threatened when Maj. Thorn from the Inspector General's office arrives and decides to seek revenge against Bilko for an incident that happened years earlier.

Who's in it? The movie stars Steve Martin, Dan Aykroyd, Phil Hartman, Glenne Headly and Daryl Mitchell.

Review: My outdoor chores were hindered by rainclouds this past weekend and, while waiting for the sun, I came across this film on one of our movie channels. It had been a while since I had seen it and, after re-watching it, I remembered why it is one of my favorite military-themed comedies.

One of the things I really like about this movie is it isn't as predictable as most comedy films are. Part of this is because Bilko (Martin) is so arrogant about the stuff he does, the addition of Thorn (Hartman) forces him to come up with plans on the fly. This includes everything from switching barracks with another company (with funny, albeit somewhat inappropriate results) and hiding various other illegal activities from a pair of number crunchers (Chris Rock and Cathy Silvers).

This lack of predictability includes his relationship with his girlfriend, Rita (Headly). At first, this part of the movie seems like the one thing that would be easy to figure out, especially when Rita starts dating Thorn. However, once you realize she is as devious and clever as her boyfriend is, it does take the movie a whole different direction that makes it more enjoyable than a lot of other romantic side stories (I especially love how this one ends).

Of course, having a cast that includes multiple comedy legends doesn't hurt this film either. This was the kind of movie where it could feel like someone like Dan Aykroyd was just phoning it in but the chemistry and talent did override a lot of the weaker parts of the script.

Final Opinion: It's not as good as Stripes, but it is still an entertaining and funny movie that is worth taking the time to watch at least once.

My Grade: B


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