For those who complain about movies where the viewer might have to, oh, I don’t know … think, we have Delta Farce. This is a movie for which absolutely no thought is necessary. Indeed, I am reasonably certain that this is a film that would best be enjoyed by persons who have been lobotomized. After the first 30 minutes (I’m being generous), you may well feel like you have been.
Delta Farce is the latest starring vehicle for Larry the Cable Guy, who only last year attempted to bring civilization to an end with the peculiarly titled Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector. (How a “cable guy” could be a health inspector is one of the great imponderables of our age, which says much about our age.) Mr. Cable Guy is from the Jeff Foxworthy school of comedy, and this time he has been joined by another alumnus, Bill Engvall, as well as character comedian DJ Qualls. Qualls proved he was actually capable of acting in Craig Brewer’s Hustle & Flow (2005); however, you will see no sign of that here. Then again, it isn’t like he’s been given anything to work with.
I’m reliably informed that there are indeed people who find Larry the Cable Guy amusing. However, I have yet to meet these folks, who seem to me as elusive as the people making up the audience for Abie’s Irish Rose did to theater critic and humorist Robert Benchley in the 1920s. And like Benchley, I’m ready to believe—in the event that some H.L. Mencken-like jiggery-pokery propels Delta Farce into the realm of success—that the existence of such an audience would prove why democracy will never work. Assuming, however, that this audience for Mr. Guy (I do not feel sufficiently chummy to address him by his first name) does exist, surely they must want something more from—and for—their hero than this sort of appallingly lame—and cheap—service comedy.
Service comedies—films in which the comedian or comedians are improbably thrust into the armed forces—are rarely the highlights of any comedic career I can think of: not for Laurel and Hardy, nor Wheeler and Woolsey, nor the Ritz Brothers, nor Abbott and Costello, nor Bob Hope, nor Martin and Lewis. Chaplin came closest, I guess, but I know of no one who’d call Shoulder Arms (1918) Chaplin’s best work. (Some critic frothing at the keyboard over the sheer awfulness of Delta Farce was led to call Stripes (1981) a “classic,” which, to me, makes a good case for why the word “classic” should be stricken from film criticism altogether.) Still, not all service comedies are created equal, and if one had to choose between Laurel and Hardy in Pack Up Your Troubles (1932) or Wheeler and Woolsey in Half-Shot at Sunrise (1930) and Delta Farce, the choice would not be difficult. Delta Farce may in fact be the worst such film ever made.
The premise itself is ghastly. Larry (Mr. Guy), Bill (Ingvall) and Everett (Qualls, who may be the only one of the three capable of responding to a name other than his own) are unlikely army reservists who are somehow (the film is not clear on this) pressed into going to fight in Iraq by a moderately psychotic Sergeant Kilgore (Keith David, Transporter 2). Along the way, they and Kilgore are dropped from the transport plane into the Mexican desert. Unfortunately, they survive. (Just why a plane from Georgia bound for Germany on its way to Iraq is flying over Mexico is never addressed.) Thinking Kilgore is dead, the three—who assume they’re in Iraq—set off to help liberate the country in their special desert vehicle complete with a bumper sticker that reads, “Gas, grass or ass—nobody rides for free.” (The filmmakers like the bumper sticker so much, they show it to us in close-up twice.)
This all leads to a lot of idiot racist humor (“I hear them carpet fliers don’t wipe their butts”) and flatulence gags and more than the usual array of jokes predicated on homosexual panic. It also leads to the three—along with the not dead Kilgore—helping to free a village from the tyranny of a local gang of bandits, headed up by Danny Trejo as Carlos Santana (a gag the writers think never grows old). Not surprisingly, Trejo is the best thing about the movie, but that’s like saying, “Hey, that nail sticking through my foot hurts less than that railroad spike through my head.” The whole thing would be monumentally offensive if it weren’t for the fact that it’s simply too stupid to rate that kind of outrage. Despair would be a more appropriate emotion. Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual humor.
— reviewed by Ken Hanke