A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 251 – Starship Troopers

Starship Troopers – November 6th, 2010

I’m currently visiting a friend of mine and as before when I’ve visited her, we decided to pick a movie that she owns and we own. It makes it easier than if we had to go out and rent something on the fly. We even made a column in our big spreadsheet (not the one linked to here, but the big-ass one that has our notes like what room we’ve got it shelved in and whether it’s part of a series and/or subtitled, running times, etc.) so we’d be able to sort by what she owns. It’s a fairly nice list, but when I looked at it this morning I realized several titles are ones that we’re saving, or ones that are parts of series. And we don’t want to go starting series apart. So I looked through the list and settled on this. Because who the hell doesn’t like an explody bug invasion space satire?

Yes, this movie is satire. From the over-the-top military content to the educational/informational movies and propaganda that are peppered throughout the film. It’s all very much poking fun at itself and its ilk. Now, I haven’t read the book, so I can’t personally speak to whether or not it’s at all accurate to the book’s mood, but given that I’ve seen it mentioned that Heinlein’s widow thought the movie was a mockery of the book and tried to get his name off the credits. So yeah, I suspect the mocking aspect was not part of the original work and also that it was entirely intentional.

I mean, come on. If it’s not intentional? I honestly don’t know what I’d say. If the propaganda films (full of kids stomping on bugs while a narrator exhorts the viewer to “Do your part!”, as well as censored footage of a giant bug attacking a cow, and the repeated phrase “Do you want to know more?”) aren’t a classic sign, I don’t know what is. They take what would otherwise just be a bizarrely overblown scifi shoot-em-up with elements of parody into full blown satire. I don’t now how anyone could take this movie seriously. I suspect the actors didn’t, even if they do manage to keep straight faces through all of the neon gore and scenery chewing.

The plot is pretty standard fare. Giant space bugs, inimical to human life, are a threat to humanity and poised to attack Earth. The futuristic Earth of the movie is a somewhat militarized state, with federal service being the key to citizenship and therefore voting rights, childbearing rights, etc. Our hero, John Rico (who is so not suave) is kind of a dumbass, but he’s a pretty dumbass who can play football (future football!) and he has a gorgeous girlfriend (well, gorgeous if you like Denise Richards, but she doesn’t do it for me – then again, neither does Casper Van Dien as Rico). Said gorgeous girlfriend, Carmen, is super smart too and wants to be a military space pilot. She enlists for federal service, as does Rico, who wants to be with her (not with his abysmal math score, but whatever), and their friend, Carl. Carl, played by Neil Patrick Harris, is psychic and ends up in military intelligence. Carmen gets into the pilot program, of course, and promptly dumps Rico by minidisc message. And Rico ends up in the Mobile Infantry, firing lots of guns and yelling and watching his fellow soldiers get ripped to pieces by bugs. The bugs attack, the humans fight them, the bugs attack more, the humans fight them. People die, bugs get blown up and spew bright orange and green goo everywhere. Eventually they find out there’s a brain bug directing everything and with the help of Carl’s psychic manipulation Rico and Carmen escape and the brain bug gets captured by Clancy Brown.

Hell yeah, Clancy Brown is in this movie. And as my friend J commented, you do not sass Clancy Brown. He’ll break your god damn arm. If you take nothing else from this movie, remember that. And the thing is? While the plot is kind of silly and has a whole romantic thing going on with Rico and Carmen and this pilot dude trying to get into Carmen’s pants and another school friend of theirs, Dizzy, who wants to get Rico into hers? There’s some fun stuff in here. Like Clancy Brown. It’s pure big budget cheese and that’s totally intentional. That’s the whole fucking point. The movie even laps itself, which always makes me laugh, and I think it was set up that way. Sure, it introduces the movie with action instead of Rico, Dizzy and Carmen in a classroom getting lectured on citizenship, but it’s also played for humor. Even if that humor is a cameraman and reporter getting chomped.

My biggest complaint about the movie isn’t the uniforms or the creepy politics or any of that. In the movie it’s all part and parcel of the satirical tone, and I actually kind of like the equal treatment and display of genders in this society, so that’s a plus. It’s the whole thing with Rico, Dizzy and Carmen and the other pilot whose name I can’t remember. Doesn’t matter. His brains get sucked out. Anyhow, Rico’s totally hung up on Carmen, but Carmen dumps him right quick. Rico’s kind of a jackass anyhow, so I don’t blame her? But she pulls shit like dumping him and then saying “You don’t look happy to see me” when she meets him by surprise later on. So they kind of deserve each other. Whereas Dizzy, who kicks ten kinds of ass and is probably a better soldier than Rico on any day of the week, is so fixated on him she gets herself transferred to his squadron. And then she gets killed off after she and Rico finally hook up, her dying thought being that it’s okay to die now cause she finally got him. That’s kind of bullshit.

But well, it’s a ridiculous movie, so I don’t take it terribly seriously. It’s not like I have to like Rico or Carmen to enjoy it. They’re just cogs in the whole thing. I can sit back and enjoy Clancy Brown and Michael Ironsides and Rue McClanahan’s cameo and Dina Meyer as Dizzy and Jake Busey’s bizarre anime hair and all the explosions and the bugs and Neil Patrick Harris with his creepy mind control. That’s more than enough to block out the two leads and how I totally cheered when they got stabbed by bug pincers.

November 6, 2010 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , , , ,


  1. “What are y’all looking at? You’re on the clock, right? Saddle up…”

    Comment by Doc Wheat | November 7, 2010 | Reply

    • You know, Rico says “saddle up” at least twice and I felt totally cheated that Clancy Brown never got to. Cheated and sad.

      Comment by ajmovies | November 7, 2010 | Reply

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