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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  • 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)
  • Private Benjamin (1980)

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16 April 2006 | moonspinner55
| A military feminist comedy with (unwelcomed) serious overtones
"Private Benjamin" reignited Goldie Hawn's status in movies, but it doesn't leave behind good feelings, and occasionally the self-serious overtones are mean-spirited. After a strenuous opening, pampered Jewish princess Judy Benjamin (Hawn, looking great) asserts herself for the first time by joining the U.S. Army; her recruiter has convinced her it's like Club Med... Is anyone this naive? Probably not, but that's what gives the first-half of the movie a silly kick. The boot-camp stuff has all been done before, but seldom with a woman at the center, and most of Goldie's lines get big laughs (After scrubbing the latrine with her electric toothbrush she tells the guard, "You could eat off that floor--why don't you?"). Unfortunately, the screenplay aspires to higher things other than military slapstick. Judy falls for a mumbling Frenchman (Armand Assante) who is the stereotypical Euro-cad completely out-of-place in these sitcom surroundings; his scenes deaden the rest of the film, which has a curious, but unfunny 'sanity restored' ending. The streak of late-'70s pro-feminism red carpets the movie practically in advance as if Hawn (one of the producers) really wanted to say something; naturally, almost every male in the film is a jerk, a liar, a weakling, a rapist, or a cheat. The portrayal of Judy's parents is torturous, and Eileen Brennan is stuck in the one-note role as cruel Captain Lewis, whose character is eventually brought down to size by turning lesbian! Hawn does manage to carry the movie for much of the way, and yet she bears some of the blame for the film's sour tone. **1/2 from ****

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