"Private Benjamin" pretends the make and model of this 1980 Goldie Hawn vehicle will bring you the new-car smell of female empowerment by having a put-upon housewife change gears via enlisting in the Army, but when you pop open the hood and look at the engine, you'll find the same old misogynist faux-feminist lemon Nancy Meyers always smarmily tries to get you to drive off the lot.
This is the first film Nancy Meyers was ever involved with, and it gained her her only Oscar nomination (she wrote it with her then-husband and future long-time collaborator Charles Shyer).
It stars Goldie Hawn as Judy Benjamin, a woman whose second husband (played by Albert Brooks) dies on their wedding night, so out of loneliness (and blatant stupidity) she believes the obvious chicanery of an opportunistic Army recruiter (played by Harry Dean Stanton) who makes her think joining up with be the equivalent of a lavish European vacation.
Of course it isn't; and, she is ridiculed by her mean parents and her tough-as-nails female Army superior Capt. Lewis (played by Eileen Brennan). But Private Benjamin eventually shapes up and takes to boot camp, and after an unneeded attempted rape scene, she parlays this act into being stationed in Europe just so she can be closer to a dickish Jewish Communist French-ish gynecologist (no, seriously) that she had a one-night stand with at a bar randomly. She ends up quitting the Army to marry him, but then she realizes he sucks and pulls a runaway bride at the altar.
What did she learn? Nothing. What did we get out of this comedy? Not much laughter. Has Nancy Meyers been doing this same routine since the beginning? Most definitely.
Join us as we dive deeper into our attending the fictitious Nancy Meyers convention known as "Nancy-Con," tell some stories about pranking teachers, and how this movie about the Army barely has any Army-ing in it.
This episode is sponsored by Sign of Our Times.
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