Film Review


MASH will either amuse or outrage you, depending on your moral sensibilities and repressed urges. Even if sexism, racism, etc. offend you, you still may want to give MASH a view anyways, as a two-layered, or double, satire that features some fairly good acting and directing. In the first layer, we have our wisecracking heroes bucking convention, flouting the establishment, and getting away with all manner of jokes and pranks, some of which are funny, though others are, well, a bit evil. They can get away with it because they are not exactly anti-heroes. After all, they are damn good surgeons, and they save lives, though they can also ruin lives as well. The second layer of satire is on these non-conformists who turn around and force conformity on anyone who opposes them, by bullying and ridiculing them into submission or exile. MASH is based on real life, and this is how people can be. We get camera shots that linger on a victim in a way that is un-comedic and suggests that this double satire is likely intentional, though perhaps subconsciously so. The overall vibe of the film is split as well. It is both comedic (with a tone like Police Academy) and also has a kind of cool realism, with its technical surgery scenes and snappy dialogue. The directing is done in the quirky, trademark style of Robert Altman, and some of the standout elements (e.g. people talking over one another) may cause one underappreciate all that went into making it seem like the action takes place in a real camp and field hospital. The acting is fine, Donald Sutherland and Eliot Gould have a pretty natural, unaffected delivery, both when talking through operations and telling jokes. However, the film gets out of its realistic mode and becomes more sitcom-ish in a bad way in the second half, and, originally, I had the film rated lower, but after watching it again, I gained more of an appreciation of different aspects of it (i.e. that it can be viewed as a double satire). I would recommended MASH to those who are fed up with political correctness and see nothing wrong with a prank that is all in good fun, and to those who are interested to see a film that cuts through idealistic BS and shows people in a complicated way, neither totally good or bad, but a mixture of both.

3.5 / 5.0

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