MOVIE REVIEW : 'In the Army Now' an Amiable Retread

TIMES STAFF WRITER

There's not a whole lot to be said about "In the Army Now" or its star, Pauly Shore. If Shore's comic genius eludes you or if you find the film something less than a constant laugh riot, you may still be willing to agree that it's amiable enough and not begrudge in the least the likelihood that Shore fans will be pleased.

It's a service comedy, reminiscent of many others--Bill Murray's funnier and more inspired "Stripes" is the first to come to mind. Shore and his sidekick (Andy Dick) are goofy guys trying hard to be cool but wind up signing up with the Army Reserve when they're fired from their video store jobs. They opt for the water purification team, believing it to be a safe choice, only to find themselves charged with destroying a Libyan Scud base hidden in a desert in Chad.

Shore, who first scored on MTV, is pleasant-looking and disciplined. His sense of timing is well-honed and his delivery droll--there's a childlike quality to his way of speaking that finds you imagining him doing a scene with sound-alike Melanie Griffith. Like other comedians in the film--Christine Jones and Fred Ostroff in particular as his water purification teammates--Shore can draw laughs even in these fairly uninspired circumstances--witness his miming a trip to the dentist.

Eight writers, including the film's director Daniel Petrie Jr., haven't freshened up very much a plot that's been around since the silent era. Petrie, however, compensates with consistently brisk, crisp direction; there's a refreshing lack of self-indulgence throughout. Even if you're not particularly amused by "In the Army Now," you may agree with one admirer who summed it up as "a nice, clean job."

* MPAA rating: PG, for some war action, mild language and comic sensuality. Times guidelines: It includes some sexual innuendo but is suitable for teens.

'In the Army Now'

Pauly Shore: Bones Conway

Andy Dick: Jack Kaufman

Christine Jones: Lori Petty

Fred Ostroff: David Alan Grier

A Buena Vista release of a Hollywood Pictures presentation. Director Daniel Petrie Jr. Producer Michael Rotenberg. Executive producers Nicholas Hassitt, Cyrus Yavneh. Screenplay by Ken Kaufman & Stu Krieger & Petrie and Fax Bahr & Adam Small; from a story by Steve Zacharias & Jeff Buhai and Robbie Fox. Cinematographer William Wages. Editor O. Nicholas Brown. Costumes Michael T. Boyd. Music Robert Folk. Production designer Craig Stearns. Art director Randy Moore. Set designer Thomas Reta. Set decorator Ellen Totleben. Running time: 1 hour, 22 minutes.

* In general release throughout Southern California.

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