For anyone who loves the classic '50s TV army base sit-com, the notion of doing Bilko without Phil Silvers suggests a travesty. Bilko was the ultimate finagler, but Martin hasn't the required calculation, though he's proved capable of inspired lunacy in the past, and has an ironic cool that might have seen him through. Director Lynn did a good job with My Cousin Vinny (not forgetting his Yes, Minister days) and Silvers' daughter Catherine pops up in the supporting cast, along with Aykroyd (Col Hall) and Headly (Bilko's girl). You might be forgiven for hoping against hope that these people couldt produce the goods just this once. You'd be wrong. This is a travesty all right, but a travesty with perhaps four laughs, tops. There's a good sight gag involving a horse early on, and one chuckles indulgently when Martin updates one of Bilko's classic routines (mistaking the Colonel's wife for Sharon Stone), but it's apparent within minutes not only that this isn't going to work, but that no one much cares. 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.
Cast and crew