Out S.Martin Bilko
Whilst Col. John T. Hall (Dan Aykroyd) may technically be in charge of Fort Baxter, most of the men and women serving there end up working for Master Sergeant Ernest G. Bilko (Steve Martin) who uses the Motor Pool he is in charge of as his base for gambling. But whilst Sgt. Bilko may not have a bad bone in his body trouble is looming as his girlfriend, Rita Robbins (Glenne Headly), is tiring of his excuses when it comes to getting married. On top of that Sgt. Bilko has to deal with Maj. Colin Thorn (Phil Hartman) who having fallen foul of one of his gambling scams many years ago has arrived on Fort Baxter and wants to get revenge, not easy when Sgt. Bilko is so ingenious.
I'm of the age where technically the 1996 movie version of "Sgt. Bilko" should have really worked for me. On one hand whilst I had seen some clips from the original "Sgt. Bilko" TV series I wasn't born in the 1950s and so didn't have that love of the old series. On top of that I was one of those who never really got Steve Martin's early career but loved him when he started making the family friendly comedies rather than trying to be different. As I said technically "Sgt. Bilko" should work for me but the truth is that whilst fun it isn't a great movie.
The thing about "Sgt. Bilko" is that whilst we have Maj. Thorn determined to out smart Bilko what you really get is 93 minutes of comedy which is over reliant on Steve Martin to make it funny. Don't get me wrong as there are some funny gags in here and the supporting performances are fun, especially from Eric Edwards as Pvt. Duane Doberman, but every time Steve Martin is on screen he seems to be trying too hard to bring some comedy to the scene be it the barking of orders or a bent leg when he salutes. And to be honest whilst there are scenes which see Steve Martin and Dan Aykroyd together there are nowhere near enough of them.
What this all boils down to is that whilst "Sgt. Bilko" is not a bad movie it is nothing more than just good fun. In the end it is simply one of those comedies, quite common in the 90s, which put too much focus on the star to be funny enough to carry it.