No Time for Sergeants

1958 comedy

Rating: 12/20 (Jen missed the beginning but said she's give it an 8/20.)

Plot: Country bumpkin Will Stockdale is drafted into the Air Force. He's simpleminded and naive and makes life difficult for his commanding officer Sergeant King and new pal Ben.

Andy Griffith acts like he's attempting to make his character bust through the screen and bite your face off. And I don't mean that in a good way. He's a lumbering doofus of a character, lovable enough but way too much of a character to make this realistic enough for the comedy to work. Myron McCormick as the sergeant and Nick Adams as Private Ben are guilty of the same thing, almost like the leads have realized that the script isn't very funny and feel the need to out-funny each other with outrageous caricaturization. I kept waiting for the comedy to add up to something, turning into something satirical maybe, but it remained nothing more than a very very mild goofy comedy, like slapstick where slapping and the use of a stick has been strictly forbidden. That's fine because I can appreciate a dumb comedy as much as the next dumb American, but there wasn't a single thing that tickled any of my funny bones, and other than the criminally underused Don Knotts, I doubt I'll remember a single gag from No Time for Sergeants in a few months. In a way, this feels like an American take on a Jacques Tati type movie, the simple man who is thrown into a technologically-advanced world, or a world where the rules and regulations don't seem to match up with how the main character goes about things. But, typically American, the main character talks way too much and kind of stomps all over everything. I don't know. Maybe the the whole thing's a metaphor for our military?

1 comment:

cory said...

Wow. This really caught me by surprise. I thought you would enjoy it, and not just because it is the fun Don Knotts' first performance. It feels like you were expecting too much, or are being very critical of this light, round peg in a very square military hole, kind of comedy.

Sure, Griffith's character is goofy-naive with extra yokel on the side, but he is harmless and fun. Most comedies have over-the-top or satirical characters. I really enjoyed the relationship with the Sergeant, his friend, and thought the whole thing was humorous and harmless, not in a gut-busting or meaningful way, just in a fun way. A 12 seems pretty harsh. A 16 or 17 from me.

Comedy replacement: a Harold Lloyd film I don't think you've seen..."Girl Shy"