Release Date: TBA
Making movies just isn’t good enough anymore. We’re thrusting headlong into an exciting new world where movies aren’t just biographical, but fictionally biographical; not just documentaries, but mockumentaries; not just fictional, but reality-based fiction. With meta-humor becoming as commonplace in comedies as explosions in action flicks, it’s getting tougher to create the next big twist on classic stories. Despite this, Military Intelligence and You! has found an incredibly entertaining way to achieve that task.
Military Intelligence and You! splices old World War II movie footage with newly shot scenes to create a satirical look at how vital gathering information can be to the war effort. On one side of the front are the brave men of the sky trying to take down the dreaded Nazi Ghost Squadron that keeps thwarting their advances on enemy bases. On the other is Major Nick Reed (Patrick Muldoon) and his crack team of intelligence gatherers lead by Gen. Jake Tasker (John Rixey Moore) and filled out by the voluptuous Lt. Monica Tasty (Elizabeth Ann Bennett) who once shared a love and a bed with the dashing Major Reed.
This film is so tongue-in-cheek it’s lucky to be talking out of the other side of its face. It’s as dry as they come despite being a not-so-veiled jab at the Bush administration’s handling of the war. Unfortunately, many of the best jokes are ruined when they go just a step too far, and instead of hinting at the target, the filmmakers point a spotlight at it with sirens blaring. For as smart a movie as it is, it should have had more faith in its audience. On the other hand, Military Intelligence succeeds in keeping interests piqued by changing pace just before the audience rolls its eyes from Bush bashing to clever mockery of the educational film style of the late 1950’s.
Adding its name to the list of hybrid comedies, Military Intelligence is presented as a training film that features an enthusiastically sarcastic narrator, backed up by stock film footage from other fictional World War II accounts, real war footage, and the brazen black and white world of Nick Reed’s central command. But don’t think that half of the weight is carried by older movies. Writer/Director Dale Kutzera ingeniously weaves his storyline into the old footage by using fake German subtitles and new narration to take the older films into a new direction. It works incredibly well.
Kutzera also captures the feel of the old movies in his own shots with great use of lighting that makes every actor have a glow about them. The dialogue also bolsters the cheeky feel of the classroom series of the time and of propaganda films. Best of all, is the acting. Muldoon, who most will remember in the other military satire Starship Troopers plays brilliantly as the shallow soldier fighting the good fight and trying hard to come up with something profound to say once he’s brought his men home safely. Elizabeth Ann Bennett’s Monica Tasty is done with a delicate balance of truism to the time period and feminism of the current. Even though she plays a smaller role, she continually finds ways to shine. The rest of the cast also finds ways to individualize their characters while all striving to achieve the same stereotype. By the end, when Reed and Tasty finally share their victory kiss, the inevitable Hollywood, hero ending becomes something of a mockery when placed against the fervor of warmongering in the headlines – the very butt of the satirical joke. It’s a great moment of triumph and the height of an awkward punchline.
Military Intelligence is a hilariously clever movie. Even if it does take the joke a bit too far at times, the vehicle for the set up is innovative and carried out to its full potential. Not only will this movie entertain, but it’ll be added to the long list of films ushering in a new era of comedic styles.
The Upside: Incredibly fun narrative structure, and a ton of laughs.
The Downside: If you’re at all a fan of Bush, a Republican or even tired of politics, you’ll get bored with this movie’s constant attacks. As popular as it is to bash the president, this film could have been miles better if it had allowed its audience to connect the dots at times. Also, the guy that never changed his leather pants the whole festival guffawed so loud it made the screening fell like a Democratic convention sponsored by the local patchoulli company.
On the Side: Technically, because of the splicing of old footage, Director Dale Kutzera can claim he’s made a movie with cult star Ronald Reagan.
Final Grade: B+
Related Topics: Austin