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Review: The kooky version of Nicolas Cage returns in ‘Army of One’

Nicolas Cage in the movie "Army of One."
(Anchor Bay)

If nothing else, the comedy “Army of One” brings back the unself-consciously kooky Nicolas Cage — the one who risks being abrasive for the trade-off of being memorable — after a string of mumbly, monotone performances, mostly in mediocre action movies.

In “Army of One,” Cage and “Borat” director Larry Charles (working off a screenplay by Rajiv Joseph and Scott Rothman) riff on the true story of Gary Faulkner, a colorful American civilian who made multiple attempts to sneak into the wilds of Pakistan and capture Osama bin Laden. As portrayed by Cage, Gary is a jovial know-it-all with a good heart and delusions of grandeur, who makes friends and causes trouble everywhere he goes.

The motormouthed Gary comes up with a half-baked kidnapping scheme, fails miserably, and starts over, with the cautious support of his girlfriend (well-played by Wendi McLendon-Covey) and the guidance of “God” (Russell Brand).

The movie’s noisy, busy and not that funny. But there is a sweetness and a cockeyed optimism here. At heart, it’s a salute to American gumption — however misguided.

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More important, Cage is as fun to watch as he’s been in a good long while. With his high-pitched voice and wiry energy, he creates a character who’s sometimes annoying, sometimes sympathetic and always wholly alive on the screen.

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‘Army of One’

Rating: R for language and drug use.

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Running time: 1 hour, 33 minutes

Playing: Laemmle NoHo 7, North Hollywood

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