The War

Starring Kevin Costner and lots of kids.

My Rating:

9 Stars: Hey! This isn't The Winslow Boy!


Bitable Bytes:
"...Yer darn tootin'!..."
"...Straight from the hip...Straight to cable...!"

What to do while watching:
Waver between the feeling that you could be spending your time in a countless number of preferable pursuits and the feeling that since your life does not resemble the life of these characters, you couldn't be doing all that badly just sitting there.

What to eat while watching:
Carpet fuzz.

I'll tell you one thing I know is true: War is bad. It messes with people's minds. It destroys souls, families, worlds. Did I know all of this before watching The War? I sure did. Did I know anything more after this viewing. Yer darn tootin' I didn't. And yet, this film preached it to me as if I'd never before suspected that war is actually a damaging, and not a healing, phenomenon. Boy, did it preach. Kevin Costner preached to me. His film-wife preached to me. His daughter preached, and his son preached. His daughter's friends preached. His son's rivals even did their share of preaching. Though I'm already a member of the anti-war choir, let me recommend to you right now that if you don't like the preaching, skip church.

I don't know where this B-flick came from. I never had heard of it, I don't think I ever saw it in a theater, and I was even more puzzled at how it got into my VCR. I rented The Winslow Boy, a David Mamet film that was recommended to me by my co-worker Erik Lehto. But this sure as shlock wasn't that film.

Instead of the typically razor-sharp and shadow-subtle dialogue that you get from Mamet, The War had clunky, obtuse, obvious-as-lip-herpes lines. This straight-from-the-hip, straight-to-cable script was slavered onto my unbelieving patience. I'm a peaceful man. I refuse to break windows or cuss out underpaid clerks. But I have decided to lay a curse upon Hollywood Video for wasting my evening. I will upgrade this curse to a "super-hellspawn dark warlock curse from the abyss" if I'm not given a full refund. Not a credit, a refund.

But I do realize that war is bad.

The film in a nutshell is about father Kevin coming home from the war. He has to see a psychiatrist because he's so torn up from the war. But he's a caring father who now just wants to spread peace and provide a good life for his family. Yet no wussy, he! When he snaps, he shows himself capable of great strength, and yet, he never fully loses control of his righteous peacability. As you will glean, this characterization wavers so as to be perfectly noble and inwardly strong, though completely inconsistent and unrealistic.

The kids are enjoying a summer in the 60's in the rural south. We know it's the 60's because kids keep singing songs from that time. We know it's the rural south because of the strained accents coming out of every mouth. We are shown in no uncertain terms that all these characters are poor. They live in squat, falling-apart houses or junk yards. The kids are perpetually makeup-artist grimy.

I don't even want to go any further into this plodding, predictable plot. The kids have a battle with their rivals over a tree fort. Kevin Costner dies and becomes and angel. A little boy and a little girl grow up. Gag! Gag! Gag!

And there are reviewers on Amazon who actually liked this movie! I am in a stupor over this fact, but I recognize that tastes vary. To give this movie the benefit of the doubt, I will say that if you like broad strokes and easy-to-get morals, easy tear-jerks, and feel-good endings that come without surprise or suspense, then rent it. If you like stereotypical period pieces that rely on period songs that the producers got for bargain-basement, rock-bottom royalties, rent it. If you like Kevin Costner and can imagine him 100 times sappier than he was in that Movie About the Baseball Field, then--and you have my pity--rent this movie.

Otherwise, leave it in the annals of obscurity where its only chance of being watched lies in being put in the wrong box.

Yo peace, Gooden out.

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See War for yourself.

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