DON’T ASK DON’T TELL (director/writer: Doug Miles; screenwriter: Tex Hauser, from the original 1954 film ”Killers From Space” directed by W. Lee Wilder; cinematographer: George Gibson; editor: Jackie Eagan; music: Bruce Engler, Raj Halder and Spencer Miles, Wizzer D and the Sophisticuffs; cast: Peter Graves (Dr. Doug Fartin–with the voice of Erik Frandsen), Chief Mussolino/Freud/Nurse Bendover/Truelock brothers/Librarian (voices provided by Lloyd Floyd), Rosa Rugosa (Ellen–with the voice of Barbara Bestar), Mike McCurry (Voices), Greg Roman (Titler), James Seay (Colonel Butz–with the voice of Lloyd Floyd); Runtime: 80; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Tex Hauser/Jackie Eagan/Doug Miles; Refried Flicks; 2002)
“It’s the kind of satire that you either love or hate.“
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Don’t Ask Don’t Tell might very well be a laugh a sec for the party-happy college dorm crowd nurtured on bad TV programs and kegs of Bud, but its zany humor and barrage of sassy schlock is not for everyone. It’s the kind of satire that you either love or hate, as there’s no accounting for taste. It must have pleased some folks because it won “The Audience Award” at the Neuchatel Fantasy Film Festival and the Best Feature Award at the Boston Underground Film Festival, and on its DVD jacket cover it boasts how it has been well-received at film festivals all over the world. But its brand of juvenile “potty” humor didn’t do anything for me. I found the lame jokes about Viagra, flatulence, gays, right-wing politics, and sex changes, more annoying than funny. It’s a low-brow liberal spoof on the world since George W. Bush was selected by the court as the American president. In one aside, Bush is thought of as such a dummy that he thinks Cheney is the president. I didn’t find any bite in such inane humor. Most of the jokes have to do with the funny names given to the characters such as Nurse Bendover and Doug Fartin and Colonel Butz, and places such as Felatio Alger Air Force Base and Sodom Flats, Texas.
Director Doug Miles, who co-wrote the screenplay with Tex Hauser, was undoubtedly influenced by Woody Allen’s dubbed version of a bad Japanese thriller What’s Up Tiger Lily?. This film gets away with an updated re-dubbed version of the cheesy 1954 sci-fi spoof Killers from Space, because the original has fallen into the public domain.
The thin plot has to do with a homophobic and militant-minded mad scientist named Dr. Doug Fartin (Peter Graves– with the voice of Erik Frandsen) on a top secret mission called Operation Manhole. He flies the plane, Enola Gay Basher, with the intention of bombing innocent Army homosexual personnel lured into attending a Babs Streisand concert in Sodom Flats, Texas. But Fartin bombs in error the self-deprecating named town of Inbred, Texas, and crash lands. He is taken captive by gay aliens with Ping-Pong balls for eyes who are dressed in black body stockings with striped sashes, who give him a sex change operation and convert him into a gay person before his release. His new gay behavior shocks his sexually frustrated wife Ellen (Barbara Bestar, voice of Rosa Rugosa) and the narrow-minded military brass, as they don’t trust him anymore as he now uses “fabulous” in every sentence and loves show tunes. In one bit he tells the Army shrink: “I’m having homosexual thoughts. The shrink responds: “Did you try driving a tow truck.”
It’s soon learned that aliens from the all-gay planet Uranus (“your anus”), plan to drop a mysterious radioactive queer beam to make the world gay. The Army top brass in response, tries to contemplate how to keep the world a place of continual fear and prejudice.
While we wait for the sex bomb to be dropped or stopped, Fartin wrestles with his gay feelings as the dumb jokes keep coming. One character says: “I ran like Jesse Jackson chased by a paternity suit.” Even the poet Auden has a quote attributed to him, “We must love each other or blow.”
W. Lee Wilder, the film’s original director, was Billy Wilder’s older brother, which shows talent doesn’t necessarily run through an entire family.
REVIEWED ON 1/1/2003 GRADE: D
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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