How I Won The War Movie Review–Uncomfortably Funny
The folks out at MGM sent over something interesting for us to review today–it’s none other than John Lennon in his first film role, and the name of the movie is How I Won The War. And if you’re looking for a bizarre bit of historical fiction, well, you’ve got it right here.
How I Won The War combines actual battle footage and an assortment of bizarre vignettes geared toward showing “the absurdity of war”, following the misadventures of one Lieutenant Ernest Goodbody, a man who is probably too incompetent a soldier to carry out a successful invasion of a kindergarten classroom, let alone Germany. And he will be leading a group of men who, between them, would probably die within minutes in any decent war movie, but still will somehow manange to survive, and often snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. They’re out to build a cricket pitch in North Africa, and frankly, it’s a wonder they survive.
How I Won The War is more a parody than anything else, so as such, it will include plenty of laughs, even if it does feel somewhat distasteful to laugh at World War II. I suppose there have been comedies made about it, so it’s not that big a deal, but it is an issue, especially if you have relatives who served, and considering the nature of World War II, most of us likely do.
You’ll likely laugh at some of the stuff here–frankly, it’s hard not to laugh at some of this–but you’ll likely feel bad about laughing, possibly to the extent where you wish you hadn’t laughted at all. It’s hard to watch a movie that’s clearly meant to be funny, yet where much of the humor is actually wildly uncomfortable because it’s about something that really shouldn’t be mocked. It’s like watching a comedy about kicking puppies–it really just doesn’t work. And despite itself, it will be funny, at least sometimes, though those times will likely make you feel bad about them.
It’s hard to recommend a comedy about war, especially a comedy about a war that really shouldn’t be laughed at, but this one does manage to put up some good laughs all the same, and that’s sufficient to make it worth at least a rental. You may not have the uncomfortable time of it I had, and if that’s the case, you’ll enjoy the laughs without the vaguely guilty feeling afterward. And then there’s the ending, which isn’t just full of moderately creepy laughs, but rather, an almost frightening, dark twist that’s largely out of place with what we’d only just seen.
This is a bizarre one, no mistake, and if you like it nuts, you’ll like How I Won The War. Everyone else may want to limit this one to just a rental.
The Screenhead Ten Scale splits the difference and gives How I Won The War a five out of ten for being funny, yet uncomfortably so. Some things just shouldn’t be made fun of, and World War II isn’t one of them.