Down Persiscope (1996)

This cornball combo of CRIMSON TIDE and STRIPES plays far better 
than it deserves to.  Television star Kelsey Grammer-- known to 
millions as the beloved Sideshow Bob on "The Simpsons"-- makes his 
feature-film debut as an unorthodox military officer who must win a 
war game to prove that he's worthy of his own command.  Sound 
familiar?  (Among other things, he must whip a misfit crew into 
shipshape shape.  Yawn.  The same plot is used in Jonathan Lynn's 
SGT. BILKO, which stars Steve Martin and opens later this month.)

DOWN PERISCOPE takes about 45 minutes to get up to laugh-out-loud 
speed.  Grammer's subdued performance is hard to fathom at first, 
but an extended "silent running" sequence-- near the middle of the 
movie-- marks the transition from "mildly amusing" to "infectious 
fun."  The bland ensemble cast finally begins to gel over a couple 
of good sonar gags and one hilarious bit of flatulence.  (Some 
semi-serious submarine stalking is also fun, despite the obvious 
stock footage.  Think Tom Clancy lite.)

Grammer considerations aside, the rest of the cast is exceptionally 
unexceptional.  Even Rip Torn's Admiral doesn't add much, though he 
*does* get to growl the memorable line: "I want a man with a tattoo 
on his dick!"  (Don't ask; it's a plot point.)  The jokes directed 
at Lauren Holly-- as the lone female crew member-- are equally non-
PC, but who can argue with a movie that has the chutzpah to include 
both a rallying rendition of "Anchor's Aweigh" and a music video of 
Kelsey Grammer and the Village People singing "In the Navy?"  

I won't ask any questions.

Grade: C+

Copyright 1996 by Michael J. Legeros

Originally posted to triangle.movies in MOVIE HELL: March 3, 1996

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