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Poor Gregory. After being released from the Wishing Well Sanatorium, all he wants to do is make the children happy. So Gregory reopens the old ice cream factory, and all the unappreciative brats are reprocessed into the flavor of the day.
Just in time for the spirit of the Fourth of July! I could not think of a more appropriate movie that relates to the Independence Day theme.
Un film de William Lustig. UNCLE SAM had the potential to be a grand cult classic. However lackluster performances plus a flawed and muddled orchestration prevent UNCLE SAM from earning its stars and stripes...
Master Sergeant Sam Harper (David "Shark" Fralick), an honorable Desert Storm hero is accidentally killed by "friendly fire" while fighting in Kuwait. Tragically, this one time hero has become a mere statistic...
Meanwhile, at Twin Rivers, USA, Jody (Christopher Ogden) sadly misses his uncle. However, when an Army Sergeant (Bo Hopkins) appears, the news of Harper's arrival back to the states is apparently not good news. This Sergeant has plaintively informed Jody and his relatives of Sam Harper's demise. Afterwards, Harper's grieving family wishes to have him receive an honorable burial.
Subsequently, a few twenty year old teenagers decide to foolishly burn an American flag near Sam's resting site. This action has provoked the indignation of Sam Harper. This undead patriotic marine feels deign to teach these delinquents some country pride in the typical fashion. Sam is willing to teach a lesson...at the cost of any human lives.
So "Uncle Sam" returns from the grave to restore rectitude and pride in a small, greedy town gone wrong. He has a fresh crop of sinners at his disposal. Among the characters include: an unlawful sheriff (Matthew Flint), a draft dodging teacher (Timothy Bottoms), a tax evading lawyer (Tim Grimm), and a scornful, self-serving politician (Robert Forster!). Uncle Sam fights for truth, (in)justice...and the American way!
UNCLE SAM was atrociously bad, but in a sort of cheesy way. The ensemble in this movie is a B-movie fan's dream. Even P.J. Soles rounds out the cast as a fastidious mother. Anyhow, the acting in this movie was tremendously weak. The characters lacked charisma, and I personally wanted to see virtually all of the cast members (even the child actors) bite the dust sometime in this film. The young child actor, Ogden, for one is too nettling for his own good. The best performance is by Hayes (Yes, that is the Isaac Hayes who provides Chef's voice in the indelible TV show SOUTH PARK) as an affectionate war veteran. Hayes is the only caring character who does a good job portraying Harper's former mentor who must dissuade young Jody from enlisting in the army. As for good old Robert Forster, let's just say that his performance is "on fire!"
Some wily cleverness manages to shine through but this film suffers heavily from an onerous pace. The death scenes in particular (i.e. Hatchet in the head, a decapitation, throat slitting, gunshot wounds) are far from adulterated. Some of the other subtleties were...unique. I especially chuckled watching Ogden play with those old all American action figures. Another subtlety was Uncle Sam's atypical costume. It is certainly the perfect disguise for a movie villain!
As for the antagonist, Larry Cohen has created a villain whose violent tactics are nothing more but "justified murders." The screenplay though, is a lot less refined. Ostensibly, Cohen had created mixed messages in this movie. Unfortunately, the screenplay fails to convey any of these individual messages thoroughly. Cohen wanted to discern a theme explaining that people throughout history have always been fighting without a cause. People supposedly have fought for the thrill of victory, but nowadays, people seem to fight for no other purpose than the pleasure of killing. On the other hand, Cohen also wanted to elucidate the fact that there are no noble heroes in war...only ones who miraculously survive with blood on his hands... These ideas are implied with the characterization of Uncle Sam and how he became so cold-hearted. The screenplay had strong intentions, but they are not fully expressed. Cohen does a much better job with satire. The mean-spirited satire censuring anti-patriotism and the lack of pride and duty among even America's finest citizens is inventive...up to a point.
UNCLE SAM is probably not William Lustig's best picture, but he has done far worst films. This film though, does not offer much substance except for a wasted great premise. Do yourself a favor and avoid the propaganda. Do not be fooled into witnessing this movie just because you see its excellent, holographic video cover. This vanity production is all decoration...and zero thrills. I may not be able to discourage you from seeing this movie, but I will exhort to you that even if this movie does sound fanciful, it really lacks a soul. If you do manage to sit through this whole movie, watch the end credits to hear a poem written by the veteran himself, cacophonous-voiced William Smith.
RATING: *1/2 out of ****.
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