Oscars Project: Movie #18

(Explanation of the Oscars Project here. If you haven't seen this movie before, there might be spoilers ahead!)

From 1982: An Officer and a Gentleman

Summary: Zachary Mayo, messed up equally by his mother who committed suicide (he found her dead) and by his (found) father who reluctantly acknowledged him and raised him without giving up his own licentious crazy-sailor lifestyle, signs up for training camp to be a navy pilot. He's got thirteen weeks to prove to his drill instructor (Louis Gossett, Jr., Oscar winner) he can cut it as well as to win the heart of townie/paper factory worker Paula (Debra Winger, Oscar nominated).

What I liked:

--Louis Gossett, Jr. as Sgt. Foley. According to Pickard's The Oscar Movies, "Gossett became the first black performer to win an Oscar since Sidney Poitier" for "The Lilies of the Field" in 1963 (pgs 114, 93), and he deserved it.

--Maybe I was fooled, but there seemed to be a lot of authenticity with respect to the training exercises.

--I did find it funny that Mayo was raking it in by selling his fellow officer candidates shined-up boots and buckles.

What I didn't like:

--Oh my gosh, the dialogue. It was pretty much all foul, all the time. I seem to recall as an elementary school child some of my classmates (boys) would quote some of the tamer things. . . I guess it was airing on HBO at some point, and back then parents couldn't lock channels the way they can now. That, my blogfriends, would be one of the major reasons I grew up without cable.

--The token woman who needs to prove herself in the training program. I get it, it was the early '80s, but it seemed a bit overwrought. Lisa Eilbacher was good in the part, though.

--Gere, on the other hand: not convincing. Every time he got upset and started yelling or half-sobbing or whatever that was. . . he sounded like a completely different person. Maybe I'm being too tough on him. I don't know.

--It honestly wasn't my kind of movie. I didn't find it romantic (I guess I've seen that stupid carrying-her-out-with-his-cap-on scene parodied too many times) and it's too gritty yet simultaneously superficial for my taste.

--Finally, the Oscar-winning song (don't make me say the name) just makes me think of a K-Tel Records collection commercial. (Shoot, I feel old just saying that.)

Peske and West listed this movie under the chapter's subsection called "War. . . What Is It Good For?" and said along with "Top Gun" this movie "made being a soldier look better than being a rock star" (p. 84). I think I'd have to agree with that, as well as with their inclusion of this movie in this chapter which you might recall had to do with all the '80s movies about being in denial. The denial here would be. . .

(1) people who had it hard growing up always will make it [Note: don't get me wrong; I tend to cheer for the underdog], and

(2) training to be a soldier is all about exercises and flying jets but not actual combat.

Feel free to disagree with my cynical opinions herein.

This review technically ends the chapter. I just realized this is the sixth movie from the 1980s I've watched, but for some reason I thought I still had one more to go and borrowed "Coal Miner's Daughter." (Funny how I mix things up when I'm stressed out.) It's not due back at the library until later this week, so I might watch it anyway.


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