‘G.I. Jane’ Is Better Than a Bad Punchline

todayMarch 29, 2022

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My first response to Chris Rock making a G.I. Jane joke on the Oscars about Jada Pinkett Smith’s hair was shock.

Not as a result of I used to be offended on her behalf — I didn’t even know Pinkett Smith suffered from alopecia till later — however as a result of I couldn’t consider a comic as proficient and as good as Chris Rock would stoop to such a dated, hackneyed reference. G.I. Jane first opened in theaters nearly 25 years in the past, in August of 1997. (The 2022 Oscars inexplicably determined not to honor its silver anniversary alongside its limitless tributes to The GodfatherJunoPulp Fiction, and each James Bond film ever made.)

Invoking G.I. Jane to take a shot at a girl with a bald head just isn’t precisely cutting-edge comedy in 2022. If I needed to hazard a guess, I’d estimate that two-thirds of the folks watching the Oscars didn’t even knew what the hell Chris Rock was speaking about when he introduced it up. Again within the late ’90s, in fact, that kind of wisecrack concerning the movie’s star, Demi Moore, and her authentically-shaved head had been all over the place. It feels excessive to name Moore’s G.I. Jane haircut a scandal, however it definitely was an enormous deal within the media.

When Moore appeared on The Late Present With David Letterman in the summertime of 1996 whereas capturing G.I. Jane, for instance, the viewers reacted with audible shock when she peeled off a bandana and revealed her shaved head. Letterman was intrigued too; he spent the following minute of the interview vigorously rubbing Moore’s head and quipping “don’t take this the fallacious approach however you seem like a man I went to highschool with.“

Folks beloved making enjoyable of Moore and G.I. Jane. (The Razzies even gave Demi Moore their award for the Worst Actress of 1997 over the likes of Sandra Bullock in Velocity 2 and Fran Drescher in The Beautician and the Beast.) Possibly Moore made a compelling goal as a result of she was pivoting from a string of erotic thrillers like StripteaseDisclosure, and Indecent Proposal and she or he didn’t seem to be the sort to play a army heroIn all probability G.I. Jane’s material, the mixing of ladies into the U.S. Army and the query of whether or not each genders had been equally certified to serve in fight, had one thing to do with it too.

Regardless of the purpose, whereas G.I. Jane obtained okay evaluations (it scored a 50 % on Rotten Tomatoes) and was the #1 film in America the weekend in opened in theaters, within the minds of the general public at giant the movie was mainly only a dangerous punchline — and sufficient of 1 that it was nonetheless Chris Rock’s go-to reference for a bald lady joke 25 years later.

That’s unlucky, as a result of Moore’s haircut is de facto only a small aspect of her robust, convincing efficiency within the movie. (The Razzies, as traditional, obtained this one utterly fallacious.) She performs Lt. Jordan O’Neil, a devoted Naval officer who turns into a pawn of a number of politicians battling for management of the army. Throughout a conformation listening to for the brand new Secretary of the Navy, a feminine U.S. Senator (Anne Bancroft) publicly complains concerning the lack of gender equality within the Armed Forces. Behind the scenes, she makes use of the controversy to get the army to comply with a handful of check instances that will decide whether or not girls are bodily and mentally certified to completely combine into the Navy.

Pissed off by her incapacity to advance her profession within the army due to her lack of fight expertise, O’Neil agrees to function one of many senator’s check topics, and enters the brutal and hyper-competitive coaching program for Navy SEALs. She is initially an object of mockery and scorn by a lot of her friends, and even a couple of of her superiors. However little by little, O’Neil wins over her teammates in addition to the Grasp Chief of the college, Jack Urgayle (performed by Viggo Mortensen in a efficiency that suggests what it’d seem like if Christopher Walken imitated R. Lee Ermey).

G.I. Jane was directed by Ridley Scott, who appears to have taken various cues from his brother Tony in conceptualizing the film. Basically, G.I. Jane is the opposite Scott brother’s model of Prime Gun; a story of brotherhood and intrigue inside a cutthroat army coaching facility. Lots of G.I. Jane’s pictures of fight are eerily paying homage to Prime Gun and the late Tony Scott’s gauzy wartime visuals. (Each films additionally finish with the heroic cadets drafted into authentic fight for an explosive motion climax.)

G.I. Jane’s feminist materials is necessary — and for that purpose it will make a sensible choice for a double function with Scott’s Thelma and Louise or The Final Duel — however it’s in the end much less central to the film than Scott’s depiction of the grueling realities of Navy SEAL coaching. Filmed principally at night time within the midst of torrential downpours, these sequences make O’Neal’s prep for SEAL work seem like absolute hell on earth. Overlook the abuse from sexist friends or commanding officers; no man or lady alive would wish to topic themselves to the formally sanctioned elements of SEAL coaching, which incorporates waterboarding and different types of simulated torture.

Scott may really emphasize the horrifying coaching sequences slightly an excessive amount of. The scenes between Moore and Bancroft, and between Bancroft’s character and numerous different Washington energy gamers, are fascinating, and so is O’Neal’s drive to show herself. However as soon as she will get into the swing of competing along with her fellow SEAL recruits (together with a younger Morris Chestnut and Jim Caviezel), the film kind of loses O’Neal’s inside life.

Scott might need needed to point out the best way army colleges strip folks of their individuality till all that’s left is ruthless, single-minded killer intuition. However a compelling drama might use slightly extra give attention to what that course of is doing to its hero, and to her relationship along with her hunky Naval officer boyfriend, performed by Jason Beghe, who principally exists within the movie to verify to her bosses that O’Neal’s not a lesbian (which might be dangerous PR for the army in 1997) and to present an necessary piece of proof to O’Neal at a vital turning level within the story that she might by no means get on her personal.

With so little of O’Neal’s feelings or motivations onscreen in its second half, G.I. Jane feels extra like a formulaic army thriller than like a completely realized research of this character and a posh social situation. Nonetheless, the film is well-directed and well-acted. It’s not a joke, and it doesn’t deserve its fame as one. In all honesty, there are a lot worse movies (and performances) to be in comparison with than this one.

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