Nov 99: Three Kings

(November: Main Page * Features * Reviews * Gallery ) Current Issue * Archive
by Shelby Jones
Written and Directed by: David O. Russell
Produced by: Charles Roven, Paul Junger-Witt, Edward L. McDonnell
Executive Producer: Bruce Berman, Kelley Smith-Wait
Dir. of Photography: Newton Thomas Sigel
Production Designer: Catherine Hardwicke
Cast: George Clooney, Ice Cube, Spike Jonze, Mark Wahlberg

With two smash comedies under his belt, Spanking the Monkey, and Flirting With Disaster, writer/director David O. Russell just added another notch with this wacky satire about the first Gulf War. The film manages to take a serious topic, flip the script a little, and deliver a comedy that's guaranteed to appeal to audiences between 18-35.

By touching on the many topics that are prevalent in war, Russell manages to explore the Gulf War, make fun of Sadaam Hussein, the US Military, Black quarterbacks, army reservists and a host of other topics. However, the film also highlights the varied problems caused by war and the many lives that it destroys either through death or circumstance.

By casting a television superstar/sex symbol, a hip-hop mastermind, a hip-hop video impresario and ultra-cool Wahlberg, this team of filmmakers has assembled a great cast to make this film entertaining, endearing and just plain different.


After a cease-fire has been declared in the Gulf War, President Bush has left the people of Iraq to fend for themselves and handle the continued suppression tactics of Sadaam Hussein on their own.

The US military forces in Iraq are happier than ever that the fighting is over if they ever saw combat in the first place. They are partying to hip-hop, drinking beers and looking forward to going home. During the liberation of Kuwait it was known in military circles that Sadaam had pillaged and ravaged various cities of Kuwait taking cell phones, televisions, blenders, silver, Rolexes, cars and most important gold bouillon. Our fearless three kings, after finding a map in a captured Iraqis soldier's ass, decide that in one day, they can escape the base, find the gold, represent the United States Army and make it back on base before anyone notices.

Oh the problems they will face; Sadaam's soldiers, moral decisions, exploding cows, exploding footballs, and of course the US military. The question is, after all of this, can they get the gold and did Lexus or Infiniti make a convertible?


Who would have thought that when Ice Cube lyrically blasted the line "*&%# the police coming straight from the underground, a young &*%$# got it bad cause I'm brown," that in 1999 he would be considered a very good actor? After working with such Hollywood superstars as Cuba Gooding Jr., (Boyz In the Hood), Jon Voight (Annaconda) and writing and directing Players Club and the cult classic Friday, I guess we can say that Ice Cube be "clubbin." In this film, his comedy as well as his deadpan seriousness is highlighted as the character Chief. He is a brother from Detroit who believes in God and wants to go home unharmed. Nevertheless, once he pledges to help the other kings, he is in it to win it. Ice Cube keeps the character real and humble.

Mark Wahlberg is one of the most incredible re-invented performers that we have seen in quite some time. After forming Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch (damn what a title), he has performed extremely well in films like Boogie Nights and Basketball Diaries. This performance is not of the Boogie Nights caliber but Wahlberg does tackle some of the more difficult, intense scenes that do not utilize a comedic edge - as Sergeant Troy Barlow he has to deal with some tough realities.

Who did you all think directed It's All About The Benjamin's? That's right, Spike Jonze put that down for Puff. As Conrad Vig, a hilarious red-neck with nothing else better to do than to join the army, Jonze handles his role well and keeps the comedy flowin.

George Clooney is solid as Major Archie Gates. Gates is a certifiable badass from Special Forces who forces others to believe him, trust him and above all, listen to him. This is not an Oscar performance but I don't think Clooney was aiming for that. He was able to use his character to keep his wacky crew in line.


Having anticipated this film for some time and considering the fact that I saw and liked Spanking The Monkey and Flirting With Disaster, I had high hopes for this film. Let's just say that I was quite pleased. I like Ice Cube because he and Dre were the two that brought that LA gangster funk thing the flava it needed. 'Nuff respect to the late Easy E and all of the pioneering east coast lyrical gangsters. Oh, back to this film thing. It's good. The satire presented in this film works. It's not ridiculous like Airplane but more along the lines of a well thought out comedy like Something About Mary or Russell's second film, Flirting With Disaster. Overall, it's Platoon meets Hogan's Heroes during the Gulf War and gold is for the taking. Who's gonna get it? Don't go to this film expecting an epic war drama. However, if you want to be thoroughly entertained and laugh a lot while being entertained, go to your local Cineplex and check it out.




(November: Main Page * Features * Reviews * Gallery ) Current Issue * Archive