IN THE ARMY NOW
Buena Vista Pictures
The stoner lingo has been toned down and the costumes are not as spectacular. Even the trademark curls are shorn. But before one gets the idea that Pauly Shore's screen persona has significantly matured, ''In the Army Now'' shows its silly stripes. A late-summer theatrical campaign should come marching home with fair booty for Buena Vista Pictures.
Shore and the usual phalanx of writers, including his strike team of Fax Bahr and Adam Small, have cleverly managed to expand the stand-up comedian's up-to-now limited appeal to MTV-soaked airheads, while delivering an uneven but enjoyable farce.
While Shore still has most of the best lines and situations -- such as when he faces off against drill sergeants and other stern military types -- he's also backed up by a solid ensemble cast, including Lori Petty, David Alan Grier and Andy Dick as the other misfits in a water-purifying detail of army reservists.
Director Daniel Petrie Jr. and cinematographer William Wages are appropriately conservative in their approach. Robert Folk's heroic movie music rehash hits the target, while O. Nicholas Brown's editing helps the laughs flow more or less constantly (HR 8/12-14).-- David Hunter
A Pacific sea lion stands in for a harbor seal and Vancouver locales double for Rockport, Maine, but ''Andre'' gets away with the usual Hollywood trickery. Four-legged, live-action animal stars have not fared well this season. But Paramount's bewhiskered, herring-munching, wryly comic seal has a chance to swim at least a few leagues along the same family film current as last summer's aquatic sleeper hit ''Free Willy.''
Set in the '60s, ''Andre' '' plot is strictly formula and the payoffs predictable. Still, there's a disarming gentleness and positive messages aplenty in debut screenwriter Dana Baratta's adaptation of the book ''A Seal Called Andre'' written by Harry Goodridge and Lew Dietz.
Director George Miller (''The Man From Snowy River'') orchestrates the swiftly swimming plot and shifting emotions with reasonable success, while the main human performers are natural and relaxed.
Thomas Burstyn's wide-screen cinematography is serviceable, but such potentially riveting scenes as Andre's climactic return journey to the Whitneys after being let go in the open sea are disappointing (HR 8/12-14).-- David Hunter
A LA MODE
''A la Mode'' (aka ''Fausto'') is a comfortable fit, not too fancy but stylish and spirited. Directed by first-timer Remy Duchemin, the French import distributed by Miramax tries on familiar themes, centered around a young man's coming of age after a family tragedy, but triumphs because of the captivating characters and upbeat, fun-loving mood.
With a strong screenplay and four excellent lead performances, the worst thing one can say about ''A la Mode'' is that it's noticeably episodic. Word of mouth should be good and the art-house underdog ought to perform well.
Set in the mid-1960s in Paris, ''A la Mode'' is written by Duchemin and Richard Morgieve, based on the latter's novel ''Fausto.'' The well-directed film is quietly ambitious in both its evocation of the times and smooth combination of comedy and drama (HR 8/12-14).-- David Hunter
Also reviewed last week was the film ''A Good Man in Africa'' (HR 8/15).
(c) BPI Communications
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