McHale’s Navy (1997) – Review

2 1/2 Stars

From January 1996- April 1997 Tom Arnold headlined four comedies. Each was heavily promoted and released by a major studio. None of these pictures grossed over $4 million at the domestic box-office. Of the group McHale’s Navy was the most successful financially and the best fit for the rowdy, rotund comedian. This era also saw the release of other military-based comedies often centered on forgotten sitcoms from decades earlier. This lightweight farcical tale about a rapscallion opportunist is just funny enough to be an entertaining time-waster.

Retired Lieutenant Commander Quinton McHale (Tom Arnold) spends his days puttering around the Caribbean in the old PT-73 selling homebrew, ice cream, and swimsuit calendars. He’s brought out of retirement when his old nemesis turned the second best terrorist in the world, Major Vladikov (Tim Curry), takes over the island of San Moreno and starts building a nuclear launch silo on it. With help from his old crew and hindrances from Captain Wallace B. Binghampton (Dean Stockwell), who sank a cruise liner a while back, McHale tries to put Vladikov out of business.

If McHale’s Navy was the final nail in the coffin of Arnold’s cinematic leading man status, at least it wasn’t the end of his career entirely. The four big-screen bombs that Tom Arnold anchored during the mid-nineties relegated him back to co-starring and supporting roles. It’s in these smaller parts Arnold typically shines and is a welcomed presence on-screen. Perhaps most surprising is that the star isn’t the film’s biggest weakness. That unflattering distinction falls to the soporific screenplay and a running time that isn’t justified by the small scale story unfolding on-screen.

Director: Bryan Spicer
Stars: Tom Arnold, Tim Curry, Dean Stockwell

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