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It is not a good sign when a movie sports no trailer and little advance advertising (neither of which Cranky has seen). It usually means that a Studio has given up the ghost before the first ticket is sold, and has decided to let the release sink like a wet sponge.
In the case of the comedy Down Periscope, not having advance word is a good thing, given Hollywood's annoying habit of promoting comedies by giving away the joke in the trailer.
Let's be honest about that. Most of the so-called "comedies" I've seen lately are one trick ponies. Frankly, like most of the audience Crankified after the showing I attended, I did not expect much from Kelsey Grammar, as Lieutenant Tom Dodge, in charge of a crew full of misfits. And I watch Frasier regularly.
And like all those Crankified, we were more than pleasantly surprised. Down Periscope is full of jokes. Lots of silly ones. One disgusting one. Two sexist ones, sort of. And all of em funny as all get out.
And, being about the Navy, the Village People (v.1996) appear to reprise their 1979 #3 hit "In The Navy". Down Periscope is all out silly; almost a laugh a minute hunk o' fun.
Of course it is. It is made by TV people. Hugh Wilson (WKRP in Cincinnati, among others) shares scripting credit with Andrew Kurtzman & Eliot Wald, providing a very simple story inhabited by supporting gagsters. Grammar is, as on television, the Eye of the Storm. His Tom Dodge is a three times over-looked candidate for promotion, finally given command of a 1958(ish) Belial class (rip-snortin', smoke belching honker of a) submarine, with instructions to infiltrate and destroy Charleston and Norfolk harbors in war games.
Rob Schneider (of Saturday Night Live) plays the veins-bursting-through-the-side-of-his-neck Executive Officer. Lauren Holly (Picket Fences) continues her run of comedic roles as the sole female member of the crew. You know where that can lead but, thankfully, it is not the center point of DP's humor.
To keep the balance, there is one very funny running gag involving a tattoo sported by Captain Dodge in a very private place. And a running rivalry between Admirals played by Rip Torn and Bruce Dern. Nuff said.
As for the crew, you could find this combo of characters in a television sitcom. The fat slob of a cook. A black athlete. A punk who wants off the boat. An electrician who always manages to electrocute himself. And so on. It may read terribly, but it's a almost giggle a minute.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price for Down Periscope, he would have paid . . .
Silly is good.
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