G.I. Jane (2000) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)


You may have read some bad things about this movie, but I found that it packed a lot of emotional punch, and had some plot twists that were unexpectedly pleasurable. It was directed by Ridley Scott (Blade Runner, Thelma and Louise, Alien, Gladiator), and there was plenty of money behind it. It may not be one of Scott's best movies, but he knows a thing or two about filmmaking, and Demi Moore worked very hard at a physically demanding role. She probably turned in her best overall performance in this, her last "big" movie as of the time I write. G.I. Jane has  plenty of merits to go with its weaknesses. Roger Ebert deemed it to be worth three and a half stars, and it received 77% good reviews. I generally liked the movie, except there is simply no way to defend a shameless Hollywood anticlimax at the end.

The film begins with the senate confirmation hearings for the secretary of defense, a scene which features a confrontation between the nominee and a feisty female senator from Texas over some obviously compromised reports in which the Navy's discriminatory practices are revealed.

They battle, adjourn briefly, and during the recess they adjourn to a smoke-filled room and cut a deal which trades his confirmation for a complex plan to assure complete sexual equality in the navy in three years. The plan hinges on the ability of women to prove that they are, in fact, equal, in measured test cases.

One of the test cases involves Demi Moore, a tough intelligence officer who wants to get away from her desk and become a field officer. She ends up with the ultimate challenge - passing the training to be a Navy Seal, the ultimate standard in combat warriors. At first, there is plenty of resentment, and they play games with "double standards", but they work all that out. Demi is to be measured by the same standards as men, in the exact same conditions, and she cuts it. 


Demi's breasts were seen briefly in a bathtub scene (no nipples), and her butt briefly in a dark shower scene.

In addition, she was often braless in a t-shirt.

That much was eminently predictable, but what I thought added to the luster of the film is that Demi ended up being sabotaged by accusations of lesbian fraternization, and the accusations turned out to have come from the very female senator who had originally supported her. You see, the military was planning to close five bases in the senator's home state, so everybody just went into another smoke-filled room and cut another deal to keep the bases open and to keep Demi out of the Navy's hair.

I liked that twist, and I very much liked the actual portrayal of the actual Seal training. That was exciting, educational, and produced a great deal of dramatic tension in several scenes where I was gritting my teeth along with the characters.

So much for the good news. The bad news follows:

The worst news is that they didn't know when to end the movie. Demi's confrontation with the female senator would have been an excellent place to shut it down, but they had to add an implausible epilogue in which the navy was forced by circumstances to use the seal trainees in live combat conditions, and Demi saved the day. That was anticlimactic, not to mention Hollywood bullshit.

The other problem was that every single guy in the entire military was an asshole about Demi's candidacy. Can't happen, especially after they removed the double standard. If I'm competing against other people on the exact same standard, and they beat me, how can I complain? Especially if I'm her superior officer. You have to understand that the military works just like business. A higher officer gets judged on the fitness and competency of his subordinates. If I'm a Captain, will I choose an incompetent male Lieutenant over a competent female? Of course not, and it has nothing to do with my personal attitude. I choose the woman because it's better for my own career. I want my unit to be as good as it can be, because that's how I move up.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen letterboxed, 2.35:1 - a fairly good transfer, but darker than I would have liked.

  • no major features

I could understand the whining at the beginning when Demi got a head start in the competitions and private quarters and such, but once she became completely indistinguishable from the guys, they had no reason to complain except their own stupidity, and the rule of thumb for representing life in the arts is that you can assume some people are stupid, but not all. The only guy who had a sensible attitude was a black candidate whose grandfather was denied important duty because of his color. There should have been a more balanced perspective. Neither every white guy in the world nor every white guy in the U.S. military is a sexist, racist pig. Oh, the movie showed that Demi eventually earned their respect, but the plain fact of the matter is that very few guys would have given a hot damn in the first place as long as she had to compete on the exact same standards.  

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: two and a half stars. Maltin 2/4, Ebert 3.5/4, Berardinelli 2.5/4.

  • Rotten Tomatoes summary. 77% positive overall, 67% from the top critics.

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 5.6, 
  • With their dollars ... it did pretty well, with $49 million at the domestic box, but the studio certainly hoped for more from a film with a $50 million budget.
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C+. Ok movie. Not great, but well made, with some good elements.

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