Rated: PG-13 for obscenities and violence. Reviewed by: Chris Release date: March 24, 1995 Released by: Universal Studios, Inc.
Damon Wayans stars as Major Benson Payne, an overbearing, overzealous killing machine in this new comedy. He's a hard-nosed officer who has seen action in every hot spot around the globe. Nothing would make him happier than if another war flared up and he were sent to fight for this country.
When the Marines overlook Payne for promotion for the second time, he's discharged. He shows up at Madison Preparatory School for Boys where he is put in charge of the Junior ROYC program.
His squad is in need of some gentle prodding and discipline. Instead, Payne screams and belittles them, even after a pretty school counselor (Karyn Parsons - Fresh Prince of Bel Air) encourages him to use some sensitivity, a feeling he's undoubtedly never encountered before.
For some reason, Payne's charges range from six years old to about 18. The "Major from Hell" is supposed to mold these boys into a disciplined squad to compete in the Virginia ROTC Games. Of course, their rivals all seem to be beefy, muscular college boys. So do Payne's kids stand a chance of winning?
Payne uses insults, ridicule and punishment to whip the boys into shape. Burying them in mud up to their necks while hosing them down, marching them around the campus wearing dresses and making fun of a deaf boy, is going too far, and it's simply not funny.
Wayans is a pleasant enough comedian; however, there's nothing endearing about this character. The kids are all very good, but they had to endure so much abuse, verbal and otherwise, from Payne that it's difficult to sit back and enjoy watching them.
The movie does end on a happy note, but getting there is decidedly offensive and mean-spirited.