Film Scouts Reviews

"Sgt. Bilko"

by Leslie Rigoulot

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April 3, 1996

Steve Martin has an innocence to him. Always has and always will. So how did he end up cast as the scheming Sgt. Bilko? Well, producer Brian Grazer is very comfortable with not only Steve Martin but also his co-stars Dan Aykroyd and Phil Hartman. Grazer has made "Parenthood", "Spies Like Us", "Greedy" and "Housesitter" with the old Saturday Night Live gang and decided to wait a full year until Martin was available to take on the Fifties TV role that Phil Silvers made his own. I don't think the wait was justified.

It isn't that Aykroyd isn't endearing as the bumbling base commander or Phil Hartman isn't sufficiently malicious as the visiting brass with a score to settle. It is just that Steve Martin is too nice to "spend hours looking at a circle trying to find the angles." And the angles that former stand-up comedian and SNL writer, Andy Breckman came up with are just not that big of a deal. When just about anyone can buy a lottery ticket at the grocery store, Bilko's private lottery seems harmless. Now that casinos aren't just in Las Vegas, the roulette table and card games that Bilko runs don't have the impact that they did in the original TV show. And after reading about five hundred dollar toilet seats for Air Force bombers, at least the renting out of military humvees doesn't come out of taxpayers pockets.

"Sgt. Bilko" isn't a bad movie, it just isn't worth the six or seven bucks to get in. Rated PG.

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