Monday, November 27, 2006

[1980] PRIVATE BENJAMIN: Yeah--as far as female empowerment comedies from the year 1980 go, this hasn't aged nearly as well as Nine to Five. It's not nearly as sharp, or as consistently funny. It's a weird two-act movie, a wacky basic training comedy in the first half and a light character study in the second, as Benjamin has to decide if she's going to be a princess all her life and put up with the things the movie is suggesting princesses have to put up with (like philandering husbands and a life limited to the home) or be the person who grew to enjoy army life (and the movie isn't at all clear on why that was a good thing for her--it just sort of asserts it.) You hear the term "star vehicle" tossed around a lot and this is a pretty clear example of it: it exists so that we can see Goldie Hawn do physical comedy, and a princess act, and fall in love, and stand up to her parents, and so on, and it succeeds as that--Goldie Hawn is presented in as positive a light as possible. But as a comedy or a drama (it can't decide which) it's pretty meh. (Watch for Keone Young--Storm Shadow himself--in the nigh-racist "Asian guy unsuccessfully picks up blonde white woman in bar" comic relief role.)

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