Military Intelligence and You!: Shallow Satire in Retro Garb

  There's an amusing 15-minute short buried in Dale Kutzera's debut feature, a spoof of World War II–era Army training films that strikes an agreeably silly note early on but then humps on it to the point of enervation. Kutzera starts with a clever idea: The film incorporates footage from actual military training films into its narrative à la Steve Martin's Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid. A sonorous and supercilious narrator introduces the audience—ostensibly grunts about to get their first taste of overseas action—to the concept of military intelligence and the upstanding souls dedicated to gathering it; they include square-jawed pragmatist Maj. Nick Reed (Patrick Muldoon) and his sultry subordinate Lt. Monica Tasty (Elizabeth Bennett). Their discussions about how to locate a concealed Nazi airfield are intercut with the vintage segments to create a story line that's admirably coherent. But it's also redundant, especially in its stabs at topicality. Nary a scene passes without some broad, knowingly anachronistic nod to the Iraq quagmire and the War on Terror, with our fact-and-ethics-challenged FDR-era heroes standing in for the chicken hawks of the current administration. Flatly equating World War II with the post-9/11 situation is naive at best and callow at worst; Kutzera is more interested in scoring easy, sub-SNL laughs than in examining the complexities underlying American attitudes toward war then and now. It would be a shame if this smarmy, kiddie-pool-shallow bit of gimmickry were to be confused with clear-eyed satire.

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