May 17, 2007

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Delta Farce (PG-13)
Larry the Cable Guy finds himself a sleeveless army shirt and heads to war — yes, yes, “git ’er done” — in the exactly-what-you’d-expect-it-to-be pratfall comedy Delta Farce.

Larry (Larry) is a good ol’ boy slacker who works at a cowboy-themed, buffet-having eatery and spends one weekend a month escaping reality at a National Guard outpost that is a bit like a hillbilly frat house. On one such weekend, a despondent Larry — his girlfriend just dumped him — his henpecked friend Bill (Bill Engvall) and their former-cop buddy Everett (DJ Qualls) learn that they have been assigned to go to Iraq.

More or less happy to escape their hum-drummery, Larry, Bill, Everett and their Full Metal Jacket-ish sergeant, Sgt. Kilgore (Keith David), board a plane headed east. But when the plane is forced to dump cargo during dangerous weather (namely the truck where Larry, Bill and Everett were sleeping) the four find themselves suddenly marooned in the middle of a desert.

Being men of minimal I.Q., Larry, Bill and Everett assume they are in Iraq and immediately go looking for some Iraqis to liberate from some insurgents. After a bit of driving, they do indeed come across a humble village under attack by tanned ruffians waving guns. And, after scaring the armed gunmen off, the trio are in fact welcomed as liberators. They are well into their heroes’ welcome before it dawns on Larry that Modelo, tacos, salsa and tequila are not the standard offerings of an Iraqi town. Seems that their plane trip took them only as far as a few miles outside of Mexico City.

Meanwhile, Sgt. Kilgore, whom the men prematurely buried, wakes up and knows exactly what the score is. However, his roadtrip to find his wayward soldiers is no easier just because he knows what country he’s in.

Though there is no Osama, no Saddam, the soldiers do find an enemy in the form of Carlos Santana (Danny Trejo). The movie has a fair bit of fun with the name and Trejo plays this king of the banditos with the same campy joy we saw in his role as Machete, the hired killer in the fake trailer of the same name that appeared in Grindhouse.

Delta Farce is not a good movie but it isn’t quite as bad as I expected either (not as bad as, say, Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector). I saw this film in the same week that I saw Georgia Rules and for all of that movie’s drama pretensions I’d rather watch this movie again than that one. I’d rather watch it several times again. (Though, in the larger scheme of how one spends her life, I’d rather not watch either.) Whereas that movie made missteps at every turn, Delta Farce found the level of its room (poop joke) early and stayed consistent throughout. Come expecting Larry the Cable Guy and you will get Larry the Cable Guy; the movie has no illusions about being anything more than a platform for his routine.

The comedy is bodily fluid-heavy and intellect-light and more often than not the jokes sink to the ground like, well, like Army trucks pushed out of a plane. But a surprising three or four were actually snicker-eliciting (mostly, when Trejo’s Santana was on screen). If you get past the soft racism, the mild homophobia and the annoying tics of DJ Qualls, the movie has moments where you think, “hey, this isn’t so bad.” D+

Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual humor. Directed by C.B. Harding and written by Bear Aderhold and Tom Sullivan, Delta Farce is an hour and 30 minutes long and is distributed in wide release by Lionsgate.