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Movie Review

McHale's Navy

Reviewed by: Tim Emmerich

Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
15 to Adult
109 min.

Starring: Tom Arnold, Tim Curry, Dean Stockwell, David Alan Grier, Debra Messing, Bruce Campbell, French Stewart, Brian Haley, Henry Cho, Danton Stone, Ernest Borgnine, Anthony Jesse Cruz / Director: Bryan Spicer / Released by: Universal Pictures

In general, “McHale’s Navy” is an enjoyable movie that will have you chuckling. There are the normal vices associated with military service, but perhaps toned down to a certain degree.

The setting is the small Caribbean Island of San Ysidro, where a naval base is outfitted with some bored sailors that do most anything to pass the time, except their duty. Their normal routine of fishing and self-fulfillment is greatly disrupted with the arrival of Captain Binghampton, a new officer that has come to restore order to the small naval base. Captain Binghampton’s annoying voice and questionable reputation (did he really sink the Love Boat?) do little to help him earn respect; however, he does clear the base of all unauthorized equipment and supplies. Many of these supplies are beer and ice cream that are branded “McHale's.” These supplies were provided by Quinton McHale (played by Tom Arnold) who markets all such goods at greatly inflated prices and barters other material. McHale is a popular person on the island as he helps the hospital in obtaining needed medicine and coaches the little league baseball team.

Island peace is quickly disrupted when Major Vladakov (Tim Curry), a maniac claiming to be the second greatest terrorist in the world, invades one of the nearby islands, takes advantage of the Island governor who allowed him onto the Island, and destroys the native’s village. Captain Binghampton is called from the Pentagon and instead of getting the assignment himself, he is to put Quinton McHale on it as McHale is actually a retired Lieutenant Commander! So… the conflict between McHale and Vladakov begins!

As Captain Binghampton is displeased with the Pentagon’s decision, he decides to tangle with Vladakov himself. This is a good lesson in how disobedience can lead to trouble. The reason for McHale’s retirement from the Navy was actually quite noble, which was unexpected from his lifestyle that appears to be mostly self-centered. Unfortunately, as you might expect, there is no reference to God and allowing him to be a part of the solution. (Instead, they make a fast, well-armed PT boat from parts that were purchased in Cuba.)

I recommend this movie for adults and older teens but with the warning that there are several innuendos (especially with the female Lieutenant that accompanied the Captain) and that the sailors are reading from a Playboy magazine at the beginning of the movie. There is mild/crude language and violence (after all, it is a war movie!) but it is also an enjoyable, slapstick comedy that, simply doesn’t give homage to very many Christian morals.

Year of Release—1997

Viewer Comments
My wife and I walked out of McHale’s Navy. We half-hoped to see something similar to the old TV series. What we got was sophomoric, crude, and irreverent. I suppose, if you’ve desensitized your morals by watching today’s TV sitcoms, this won’t offend you, but the when the the sailor started describing his sexual escapades with two sisters AND their mother, I was mortified. I’d rather stay home and stare at a rock for 2 hours than watch this drivel.
—Neil Martinez, age 35
This was hilarious family fun. The message made it worthwhile as well as immensely entertaining. Bryan Spicer’s direction is good, and the pacing is zippy so that it moves along quickly whenever Tim Curry (the world’s second greatest terrorist) starts to annoy me. However, 1997 has been cruel to comedies. “Beverly Hills Ninja” was HILARIOUS but there was a needless and lame scene involving a suggestive dance and some strippers that ruined it for a family audience. The “2” in “Jungle 2 Jungle” stood for how many times I laughed, twice at its tiresomeness. So check out “Mchale” while he’s in theatres.
—Michael C., age 15
This was a very entertaining movie, with a witty script. Sure, it’s not going to win a prize at Cannes or even Park City, but it had hilarious moments, and best of all no sex, and very little, if any swearing. For Christians dying of thirst in a desert of foul Hollywood sand, this is an oasis.
—Steve, age 52