Private Benjamin (1980)

R   |    |  Comedy, War


Private Benjamin (1980) Poster

A sheltered young high society woman joins the United States Army on a whim and finds herself in a more difficult situation than she ever expected.

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6.1/10
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  • Goldie Hawn in Private Benjamin (1980)
  • Goldie Hawn in Private Benjamin (1980)
  • Goldie Hawn in Private Benjamin (1980)
  • Eileen Brennan in Private Benjamin (1980)
  • Goldie Hawn in Private Benjamin (1980)
  • Goldie Hawn in Private Benjamin (1980)

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14 March 2006 | MOscarbradley
5
| A near-great comedienne ups the ante on this one
There are millions of comedies like "Private Benjamin". They are like TV shows that turn out the same joke week after week, (and "Private Benjamin" itself turned into a TV show). The best ones work and stay in the memory, not because the jokes are great, (though sometimes they are), but because the players are good and can develop the characters beyond the mere limitations of the gag. ("Frasier" and "The Golden Girls" fall into this category).

The jokes in "Private Benjamin" are not particularly original but they are funny, and they are funny because there is a near-great comedienne at the heart of Howard Zieff's film. With the right director Goldie Hawn's kookie, goof-ball wooziness was just about perfect and Zieff brings it out. Her character is the kind of woman who needs a good shaking, (Bette Davis would have made mincemeat out of her), but you love her all the same. At least until she starts making a fool of herself with Armand Assante's French sleaze-ball and the film loses it's comic momentum.

There is at least one other grand-standing comic turn from Eileen Brennan as Hawn's drill sergeant. Brennan's like a slightly butcher Mae West, (I think we're meant to assume she's a lesbian), and she gives her lines the kind of inflection that West did. Between them they raise the ante on this one.

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