Directed by C.B. Harding. Starring Larry the Cable Guy, Bill Engvall, DJ Qualls, Marisol Nichols, Danny Trejo, Keith David. (2007, PG-13, 90 min.)
REVIEWED By Marrit Ingman, Fri., May 18, 2007
In the roll-credits bloopers of this redneck-comedy vehicle, Qualls (the pencil-necked Tennessee white boy of Hustle & Flow) points out to his castmates, “You know, my last movie was nominated for two Academy Awards.” This one will not be. This movie is Best Defense meets Three Amigos, with the latter’s mild fruity overtones (“My Little Buttercup”) replaced with masked wrestling, karaoke, and gay-baiting drag-queen rape jokes. Charming. The joke of the movie – three soldiers are so stupid they can’t distinguish between Iraq, where they’ve been deployed, and Mexico, where they’ve been accidentally dropped from a plane – isn’t necessarily a bad joke. Bob Hope could have carried it off while respecting “the real men and women serving in our armed forces around the world,” per the movie’s dedication. (The characters repeatedly insist that they are merely state reservists, as if this ought to explain their incompetence without offending state reservists.) Larry (Larry) is a restaurant manager with a humiliating cowboy uniform and a girlfriend (Christina Moore) pregnant by another man; his friend Bill (Engvall) is a slave to his yard, his unruly brats, and his emasculating wife. (“But it’s great,” he adds.) And Everett (Qualls) just ain’t right: The movie comes upon him adjusting a blow-up doll in the self-storage unit where he lives. But they’re good enough for Sgt. Kilgore (David), who orders them onto a plane for Fallujah after some kind of mix-up. Another kind of mix-up lands them in the Mexican desert, jettisoned there from a cargo drop during turbulent weather. Don’t ask why; the movie won’t tell. (It’s very vague, and the expository scenes have been weed-whacked in post-production. The proof is in those roll-credits bloopers.) The important thing is that a cartoonish bandit with a throne made of hubcaps (Trejo) is terrorizing the nearby town of La Miranda, where there are no phones or radios to contact Uncle Sam, but the lissome mayor’s daughter (Nichols) has a flat-iron and an iBra and makes a queasy sort of love interest for hefty, sleeveless Larry. That's pretty much all there is to the movie. It ticks off a joke about rapist drag queens in marabou lingerie every so often. Occasionally something blows up. There’s a bit with Jerry Reed’s “East Bound and Down” as a theme song, but after it was over I went back to feeling hollow inside. Certainly there is satirical intent to the movie’s buffoonery – these ugly Americans don’t know a movie Mexican with serape and burro from “Raji who works the register at the Circle K.” (Larry, who might be the least stupid, explains, “He’s a red-dot Indian, not a tomahawk Indian.”) But is it funny? Not really. All of its subversive potential is wasted on Harding, and even the straight-ahead farce is joyless.