Sgt. Bilko 1996

Sgt. Bilko

Critics Consensus

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31%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 39

47%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 32,946

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Movie Info

When not trafficking in contraband, Sgt. Bilko (Steve Martin) oversees his base's gambling operations and occasionally runs a little con game, all under the oblivious nose of his commanding officer, Col. Hall (Dan Aykroyd). After Bilko's old nemesis, Maj. Thorn (Phil Hartman), shows up, intent on ruining his career and stealing his girlfriend, Rita (Glenne Headly), Bilko must take extra care to cover his tracks while concocting the perfect scheme to take down his foe.

Cast & Crew

Steve Martin
Master Sergeant Ernest G. Bilko
Dan Aykroyd
Col. John T. Hall
Phil Hartman
Maj. Colin Thorn
Glenne Headly
Rita Robbins
Daryl "Chill" Mitchell
Pfc. Walter T. Holbrook
Max Casella
Spc. Dino Paparelli
Eric Edwards
Pvt. Duane Doberman
Dan Ferro
Spc. Tony Morales
Brian Leckner
Pfc. Sam Fender
Peter Sova
Cinematographer
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Critic Reviews for Sgt. Bilko

All Critics (39) | Top Critics (13) | Fresh (12) | Rotten (27)

Audience Reviews for Sgt. Bilko

  • Sep 26, 2017
    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 H Super Reviewer
  • Oct 22, 2012
    Pleasant comedy has some laughs, unfamiliar with the TV show but I thought Steve Martin fit the part of the smooth-talking, quick-dealing Bilko. Much better than his unwise attempt at Inspector Clouseau, that's for sure.
    Doctor S Super Reviewer
  • Feb 12, 2012
    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 r Super Reviewer
  • Oct 03, 2011
    In this film Steve Martin plays Sergeant Bilko, a scam-artist behind every questionable activity and a myriad of other "victim less" crimes and rackets at Fort Baxter. It seems everybody on post is savvy to the game, except the bumbling Colonel Hall played by Dan Aykroyd. Enter Major Thorn (Phil Hartman), who has it in for Bilko for lousing up his career. Thorn sets out to burn Bilko. The question is will he succeed? Glenne Headly turned in a notable performance as Bilko's long suffering girlfriend Rita Robbins.
    Deb S Super Reviewer

Sgt. Bilko Quotes

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