Sgt. Bilko (1996) - Rotten Tomatoes

Sgt. Bilko (1996)

Sgt. Bilko (1996)

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AUDIENCE SCORE

Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Sgt. Bilko Photos

Movie Info

The classic 1955-59 sitcom The Phil Silvers Show (also known as "You'll Never Get Rich" in its first few episodes) became this high concept comedy with an all-star cast. Steve Martin stars as U.S. Army Master Sergeant Ernest G. Bilko, a conniving motor pool supervisor who uses his position to finance various get-rich-quick schemes, including illegal gambling, at a Kansas military base. His commanding officer, Colonel Hall (Dan Aykroyd) is mostly oblivious to Bilko's antics. Trouble arrives when the master sergeant's old rival, Major Thorn (Phil Hartman), appears. It seems that Thorn, the butt of several past Bilko capers, is eager to settle the score by spearheading a review of Bilko's records and stealing away his fiancée Rita (Glenne Headley), who may have been left at the altar one too many times. At the same time, military engineer Major Ebersole (Austin Pendleton) is testing a new high-tech "hover tank" that may not be quite ready for deployment. Directed by light comedy specialist Jonathan Lynn, who brought a similar touch to My Cousin Vinny (1992) and Greedy (1994), the updated Sgt. Bilko costarred Cathy Silvers, daughter of the TV show's late star, as Lieutenant Monday. ~ Karl Williams, Rovi

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Cast

Steve Martin
as Sgt. Ernie Bilko
Dan Aykroyd
as Col. Hall
Phil Hartman
as Maj. Thorn
Glenne Headly
as Rita Robbins
Daryl 'Chill' Mitchell
as Wally Holbrook
Max Casella
as Dino Paparelli
Eric Edwards
as Duane Doberman
Dan Ferro
as Tony Morales
John Marshall Jones
as Sgt. Henshaw
Brian Leckner
as Sam Fender
John Ortiz
as Luis Clemente
Pamela Adlon
as Sgt. Raquel Barbella
Mitchell Whitfield
as Mickey Zimmerman
Stephen Park
as Captain Moon
Austin Pendleton
as Major Ebersole
Chris Rock
as Lt. Oster
Steve Park
as Captain Moon
Debra Jo Rupp
as Mrs. Hall
Henry Hayshi
as First Technician
Richard Herd
as General Tennyson
Steve Kehela
as Master Sergeant Sowicki
Dale Dye
as First Engineer
Rance Howard
as Mr. Robbins
Steph Benseman
as Bartender
Sammy Micco
as Blackjack Dealer
Ursula Burton
as Assistant Casino Manager
Carol Rosenthal
as G.H.Q. Corporal
Henry Hayashi
as First Technician
Anthony Monroy-Marquez
as Schoolboy Actor
Lauren Kate Weinger
as Schoolgirl Actress
Travis Tritt
as Himself
Glenne Hartman
as Rita Robbins
Reno Wilson
as Radio Disc Jockey
Sally Ann Brooks
as Second Technician
Derek Basco
as Soldier
Phil Headly
as Major Thorn
Carmela Rappazo
as Telephone Operator
Dwayne Chattman
as 1st Soldier
Andrea C. Robinson
as First Vegas Woman
Lynn Tulaine
as Second Vegas Woman
Michael D. Starks
as Boxing Trainer
David E. Cousin
as Craps Dealer
Allan Bragg
as D.O.D. Dignitary
Frank Romano
as Pit Boss
Russell Bobbitt
as Valet Parker
Lauren Weinger
as Schoolgirl Actress
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Critic Reviews for Sgt. Bilko

All Critics (37) | Top Critics (11)

Though Martin and a solid supporting cast produce a few scattered moments of near-hilarity, for the most part the terrain here is as flat as it gets.

May 19, 2008
Top Critic

Aside from the sheer insanity of trying to leap into the shoes of the irreplaceable Phil Silvers, surely Martin should have recognized that the film had no script, no gags and no discernible point.

May 19, 2008 | Full Review…
Top Critic

[A] celebration of high jinks.

May 19, 2008 | Full Review…

This is shoddy hackwork, replaying classic scenarios (the honest new recruit, audits by Pentagon bigwigs and manoeuvres in Nevada) with such disregard for narrative structure the reels might be in the wrong order.

June 24, 2006 | Full Review…
Top Critic

The film is full of gratifying gags like these, but it also has to strain for newly enlarged scope.

August 30, 2004 | Rating: 3/5

Wacky is just the right tone for a spring comedy.

June 18, 2002 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Sgt. Bilko

½

Like many classic American TV shows [i]The Phil Silvers Show[/i] was something I knew of but have never really seen before (unlike [i]Mr Ed[/i] which I did watch a lot when I was a kid living in the US back in 87. Still waiting for that inevitable movie adaptation). Sure I've seen the odd snippet here and there, I know what the basic premise is, but I've never actually seen an entire episode. So with that I originally saw this movie (back in 96 on first day release) as a newbie, and to this day that hasn't changed. I still haven't seen anything much of the original material except for snippets. So to me Steve Martin is essentially my Sgt. Bilko, but is that a good thing? The plot: Like almost all of Steve Martin's movies the plot is incredibly simple (admittedly so was the source material). Master Sergeant Ernest Bilko is in charge of the motor pool (a garage in the military) at Fort Baxter in the US army. He and his boys have an easy life bending the rules and trying to dodge any kind of actual military work where ever possible. Their entire operation is a smooth running gravy train with Col. John T. Hall (Dan Aykroyd) successfully kept in the dark at all times. That is until an old adversary from Bilko's past (Phil Hartman as Maj. Thorn) pops up and tries to take revenge for a past incident. Yeah that's it. The entire gist behind the character of Bilko is essentially that he's a trickster. He's dodgy, a gambler, obsessed with money, untrustworthy around money, and tries to get out of work whenever possible. He spends most of his time in the motor pool trying to get rich quick with various dubious schemes, or simply avoiding work of any kind. Either he works his ruses or he'll get his men to do the dirty work for him. All the while he attempts to pull the wool over his superiors eyes (Col. Hall), or other officials, or visitors, or other soldiers from other units, or his own men. Whichever way he can successfully squeeze money outta someone or something. [i]'What's that?!'[/i] [i]'That's horseshit Sir'[/i] Truth be told this movie is pretty much one long collection of sketches, one after another showcasing Martin and co pulling off swindles. Luckily this is relatively enjoyable as what we get is amusing in a very very soft and light-hearted manner. Bilko's troops are a stereotypically raucous bunch with all the cliches firmly in place. You have the big dumb soldier, the big fat soldier, the Latino soldier, a token female soldier, a token black soldier, the Italian American type soldier, and the new transfer who's initially a real jobsworth that eventually warms up to Bilko's antics (of course). Surprisingly the only thing missing was a token gay character for some cheeky gags. Dan Aykroyd's Col. Hall is the gentle, bumbling, innocent military officer who is completely oblivious to Bilko's hoodwinking...in part. He does seem to be somewhat aware of the fact Bilko is up to no good; but in general he is duped quite often without even realising. I think Phil Hartman's Maj. Thorn sums up Hall perfectly when he calls him a rube. As for Maj. Thorn he is the stereotypically cartoonish villain that could easily be from a [i]Simpsons[/i] episode. The mannerisms for both of these characters are very much over the top, larger than life, but it does work for the movie. Both actors are very good at what they do and its very enjoyable to watch them overact here. Hartman clearly relished being this stuck-up villainous asshole. [i]'What was that?!'[/i] [i]'A greyhound Sir'[/i] The real enjoyment comes from the montages where we see Bilko and his men in full swing with all their various scams, games and skiving. These range from a cleverly disguised casino in the garage. Roller hockey tournaments and strength contests between fat soldier Doberman and a horse. Using military funds for various other non-military ventures, having wild parties with booze and hookers, playing golf, fixing audits etc...Its all very silly, very childish and highly unrealistic of course, but its supposed to be. Indeed where as some of the things they get up to are just plain daft and make your eyes roll; other things are quite clever with some nice visual trickery. At the same time, due to Bilko not ever training his men, they are all useless at actually being soldiers. Once Thorn gets his teeth into them we get the obligatory training montage where we see how crap and unfit all these guys are at military type stuff. Again its all very silly, predictable and cliched, you can see what's coming a good country mile away. Cue lots of visual gags surrounding Doberman the fat soldier. There is also a subplot involving Bilko always trying to get married to his sweetheart but never quite managing to get their on time. Basically he's scared to take the plunge and somehow gets out of it by challenging his fiancée to a game of cards when he turns up late to the alter. She is also addicted to gambling it seems. This entire subplot feels really unnecessary and crowbarred in frankly. It brings the movie to a grinding halt every time, its clearly in there for the romance factor. Steve Martin is admittedly on good form here, he manages to map his off the wall comedic style (taming it for a family audience) onto a classic character from the 50's very well. Most of the laughs do come from Martin and his somewhat camp physical performance, quips and defiance of the rules. The fit is a surprisingly good one along with Aykroyd, Hartman and some of the soldier actors. The main plot involving the production of the hover tank is a quirky one for sure. It is fun watching Thorn trying to find a way to nail Bilko and get his revenge, only to end up being tricked by Bilko yet again. Naturally this is all predictable just like the rest of the movie, but its pleasing enough. The problem here is the movie just isn't consistent, its very patchy, fun in parts but generally very tame and very infantile. Overall its a very very safe movie; it doesn't take too many risks, its not rude or vulgar, it basically goes down a well trodden path. A very laid back movie, with no controversial content, for a lazy afternoon or evening where you just wanna relax and giggle at some nonsense.

Phil Hubbs
Phil Hubbs

Super Reviewer

½

Sgt. Bilko is a very good comedy that unfortunately is pretty underrated. Steve Martin is great here and there's plenty of good elements to make up a smart comedy. If you're going in with expectations that this will be a Hangover type comedy, you'll be very disappointed. This is a very funny film that is supported by a good cast, including the late, great Phil Hartman. This is a smart, witty comedy. Steve Martin is very funny here and he makes the film very enjoyable. Sgt. Bilko is a very underrated film. I don't understand why this film has gotten so many bad reviews. This is a fine comedy that will appeal to anyone who enjoys a good Steve Martin flick. Sure, this film isn't perfect, but the cast deliver good comedic performances that make this film a worthy comedy to watch. Steve Martin delivers a good comedic performance that makes this film worth it. Sgt. Bilko may not be a perfect film, but it definitely is an underrated film that doesn't deserve the flack it has received. For what it is, Sgt. Bilko is a smart comedy that has good acting, good laughs and is overall very entertaining. I very much loved this film, and I think that it has plenty of effective comedic moments to make it a worthwhile film to watch.

Alex roy
Alex roy

Super Reviewer

Remember those secret little comedy gems Steve Martin made in the 80's and 90's that no one ever saw but were amazing? Yeah, this isn't one of them. Sgt. Bilko is not a character anyone can empathize with. He's dishonest, depraved, and virtually unkind. The movie explains that though he has all these faults, he boosts his platoon's morale. Since when did morale building have to include being mean spirited and rude to all hardworking soldiers and make fun of everything America was built on? Martin himself is unlikable, as he stands up his bride at the altar more than once, fixes boxing matches, runs lotteries, and charges everyone for basic necessities, including towels. Even Hartman is stuck in a role where he's supposed to be a villain who is only trying to do his job, unlike Bilko. Out for revenge for the last time Bilko basically got away with murder, Hartman's character sabotages the sergeant by being crooked. So the moral of the story is that you can do what you please, and if it makes everyone somewhat happy you can get away with it? Just plain blah.

Spencer S.
Spencer S.

Super Reviewer

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