Let's face facts here: You don't watch a movie like Major Payne for its artistic merit any more than you'd watch Schindler's List for its comedy. If you go in thinking otherwise, you're bucking for a disappointment. So it's a pleasant surprise to discover that Major Payne is more entertaining than a barrel full of bad reviews would lead you to believe. It's a totally formulaic comedy about a bunch of misfit kids who turn into a crack squad of skillfully disciplined ROTC cadets, but Damon Wayans is spot-on hilarious in the title role as the hardened military bulldog who whips the little slackers into shape. Wayans plays the role as if killing and warfare were the only joys in life, and when he finds himself cast adrift without a military commission, a scene that directly parodies Apocalypse Now lets you know that Wayans (who cowrote the script) is going to bring something new to this routine scenario. Major Payne's idea of a good bedtime story is to recall his worst battlefield horrors, and Wayans gives it just the right twist of comedy to put Payne's bullet-pierced heart in the right place--he's really just a good guy with an iron-clad exterior. The young recruits strut their stuff in the final round of their cadet competition (their marching rap is good for a solid laugh), and director Nick Castle keeps it all from becoming too stupid or over the top. It's arguably only for Wayans's most ardent fans, but as a send-up of all the great movie drill instructors, Major Payne is painlessly enjoyable. --Jeff Shannon
MAJOR PAYNE - DVD Movie
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