Video Fun with Biff

Holy crap! Biff is fired up tonight. He just returned from the new Civil War epic “Gods and Generals,” and boy did it suck. To paraphrase Homer Simpson, it was the suckiest thing that ever sucked. The word “suck” cannot even begin to describe this three-and-a-half-hour preach-fest that somehow tries to argue the South was going to free the slaves and slaves were happy in the South. This good ol’ boys garbage was brought to us by the same team that gave us “Gettysburg,” which the Biffster thinks is a great movie. However, Biff has a hard time stomaching such creative revisionist history that “Gods and Generals” presents. “Stonewall” Jackson is practically portrayed as Jesus Christ himself. The symbolism is there!

Anyhoo, all of these angry emotions got Biff to thinking. “I usually like movies about war,” Biff thought to himself. “Perhaps I should write about war movies that don’t suck and that don’t completely distort history.” Yep, that’s what Biff thought, and that’s what he’s going to do.

“Full Metal Jacket” is perhaps the most, dare I say, stunning war movie to date. Stanley Kubrick’s two-act Vietnam film is hard to forget, featuring such memorable characters as Joker, Snowball, Cowboy, Animal Mother and Private Pyle. Private Pyle, played by a young and rather doughy Vincent D’Onofrio, has a tough time getting through basic training, and his energetic drill instructor, real life Marine R. Lee Ermey, doesn’t let him forget it.

The anti-war messages are heavy, especially when Ermey is forcing the recruits to sleep with their rifles, making them chant, “Without my rifle I am useless.” Genius. The second half follows Private Joker as he finally gets his wish to “get into the shit.” What results is an encounter with a sniper that seems to be paid homage to in “Saving Private Ryan.” If you know Biff, then you know Kubrick is the real deal Holyfield and he can do no wrong. This film proves it. So there!

Another fine war film that doesn’t suck like “Gods and Generals” is “All Quiet on the Western Front.” Not that John-Boy-from-the-“Waltons”-televison-remake, but the good stuff, the 1930 Lewis Milestone-directed original. This little masterpiece – which won the Oscar for best picture, I might add – follows a group of German students through the course of World War I, from their eagerness to their eventual disillusionment. The scene in which the main character is trapped in a shell crater with a soldier he has killed is perhaps the single most effective anti-war statement in film. Beautifully shot, this film actually holds up over time. If you think about it, “Starship Troopers” basically just copied the whole premise of this movie, except for all the weird fascist stuff. Yeah, “Starship Troopers” is a rip-off of “All Quiet on the Western Front.” It all makes such sense now. It’s all falling into place.

Do war films necessarily have to be serious? Mr. Steven Spielberg didn’t think so when he made “1941” in 1979. The film takes place in California one week after Pearl Harbor and traces the actions of what seems like a hundred people as they do what they can to protect the West Coast. Spielberg’s send-up of wartime fanaticism is mostly remembered as the most expensive comedy ever made. Biff’s not sure if that’s still true, but geez Louise, this thing is 146 minutes long. It’s bizarre to see Dan Aykroyd, John Candy and John Belushi in a film that, for all intents and purposes, isn’t really ha-ha funny. However, it is a fun movie, and Biff thinks that it’s been given a bad rap. Sure it’s long, a little confusing and is a joke about a sensitive issue like World War II, but it’s nowhere near as insensitive as “Hogan’s Heroes.” Oh, those Nazis! Always good for a laugh.

Speaking of insensitive, don’t forget what Biff told ya: Don’t see “God’s and Generals.” It was the longest three-and-a-half hours of his life. It was a terrible, terrible super awful piece of garbage. Who makes this crap? Oh yeah, Ted Turner, who has an all-telling cameo in which he sings the praises of Southern freedom. Oh, those good ol’ boys, never meaning no harm.