In the Army Now (1994) — When Pauly Shore became MIA

“We’re the few. The proud. The WATERBOYS!”

Justin’s rating: Dishonorably discharged into my brain

Justin’s review: Considering how much of an impact that Pauly “Weasel” Shore made in the ’90s comedy movie scene, his actual run of successes was rather short. Encino Man and Son in Law are definitely his best outings, which took place over 1992 and 1993, and then it was steeply downhill with what I call the Unholy Trio: In the Army Now, Jury Duty, and Bio-Dome. Then Hollywood execs stopped headlining him after 1996 and the world got marginally better.

I honestly don’t know why I feel compelled to subject myself to the dregs of ’90s Weaselrama, but here we are. I remember seeing In the Army Now while working at a video store and realizing that my childhood was finally over.

Desperate for rent and kind of impressed with some snappy uniforms playing at a local putt-putt course (?), Bones (Shore) and Jack (Andy Dick just prior to his cocaine-fuelled run at NewsRadio) decide to enlist in the Army Reserves. You can hear the collective grunt of millions of actual armed forces veterans being gut-punched by the thought of Pauly Shore joining their ranks, but here we go.

If you’re getting the feel that this is a lazy version of Bill Murray’s Stripes, you’re wrong. This is an extremely lazy version of Stripes. You’ve got your goofballs hopelessly going through basic training, then your goofballs are put into a small goofball unit and shipped off to a small conflict that will show no actual bloodshed or death.

Since we’re not going to be surprised by any of the shocking twists and turns of this plot, the hope we have is that Shore’s monkeying about in a military environment will be sufficiently amusing. After all, it worked with Bill Murray, right? We loved seeing him get all snarky and sly at boot camp. Why not here?

The difference is, of course, the Shore is no Murray. His thing is being goofy annoying, and that may fly in a high school or college setting, but in the military it’s like watching a toddler lose his pants and pee everywhere while exasperated adults try in vain to give instructions. I’m sure the filmmakers wanted us to root for Bones and Jack, but no, we kind of want someone to beat them to death while the drill instructors look the other way.

Mentally ejecting a care for Shore and Dick, I latched on to the other two members of their water purification squad: Christine (Lori Petty) and Fred (David Alan Grier). Between Tank Girl and A League of Their Own, I had a bit of a thing for Petty in the ’90s, and we’ll just move on past that fact right now.

In the Army Now isn’t the worst thing that came out of the ’90s or even the worst Shore outing. It’s simply boring without much to distract the audience. It probably should’ve been entirely about the boot camp, because just like Stripes and Full Metal Jacket, the actual “mission” portion is far less interesting in comparison. So there’s really nothing to recommend here unless you’re on a very specific marathon through the mercifully brief career trajectory of a washed-up comedian.

Didja notice?

  • Trust me, watching a video game at the start of the movie is the high point here
  • That is a very unfortunate piano tie, mullet, and puffy blue shirt
  • Follow the picture instructions on your rocket launcher
  • The Army trains with giant q-tips for some reason
  • The very brief Brandon Fraser cameo
  • Could’ve done without seeing Pauly Shore in his briefs

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