Don't Ask Don't Tell

"OK"

Don't Ask Don't Tell Review


It's very, very broad, but then Woody Allen's What's Up, Tiger Lily? was broad, too. The latter title comes to mind because the concept is the same: Comic writers take an existing movie - something bad, and in the public domain - and dub new dialogue onto it. In the case of the new film Don't Ask Don't Tell, the source material is the 1954 B-thriller Killers from Space; in that film, a scientist (Peter Graves) is reanimated by aliens following his death in a plane crash in order that he can aid them in their plans to conquer Earth. Don't Ask Don't Tell uses the same material, mostly, to bring the conflict up-to-date: Graves, following the same crash, is forced by aliens to undergo a procedure that swaps out his sexual orientation. The aliens' goal this time isn't so much to conquer Earth as to turn it more fabulous, if you see what I mean.

I wrote What's Up, Tiger Lily? above, but was it Mystery Science Theater I really wanted? The presence of bobble-eyed aliens in the (apparently incredibly bad) original footage forces the comparison. Did the first director really use ping pong balls for eyes, as the new director (Doug Miles) suggests? The jokes here connect with less frequency than Allen's did, and the humor runs the gamut from pretty good to dinner theater, with the occasional obscure reference thrown in, just as it was MST. (It seemed to me that Hannah Arendt, author of Eichmann in Jerusalem, was mentioned any time I tuned in to MST; in Don't Ask Don't Tell, James Baldwin's Giovanni's Room is brought into the fray, and although I wish to be corrected if I'm wrong, I don't believe that the title is one that comes up every day.)

MST originated on television, and What's Up, Tiger Lily? came out in 1966. The difference in forum and year gives Miles and his writer Tex Hauser access to a wealth of content that their forebears simply couldn't have used. (They also insert newly-filmed footage; that this includes a few gratuitous boob shots that reflect the filmmakers' hopes, I'm guessing, of attracting the lucrative 18- to 25-year-old male demographic.) Part of the payoff for this is that it's startling - and thus funny - in any context to see Peter Graves deliver the line, "I've got to go down on a man right away. Don't you agree?" The downside is that much of Don't Ask Don't Tell is sophomoric even beyond what the premise requires.

Speaking of the premise, if it makes you uneasy to think that you might be asked, in Don't Ask Don't Tell, to enjoy one too many laughs at the expense of gay men, you can relax. In the opinion of this critic, the film is ultimately rather charming in its inclusiveness, its primary target being homophobia as opposed to homosexuals.

Don't Ask Don't Tell gets off to a rocky start; it conveys a franticness in these opening scenes, as though the writer was afraid of losing you if he didn't come out of the gate with a bang. But it calms down and, although a plot is slow in developing, the scenes that would have been filler in Killers from Space are the funniest in Don't Ask Don't Tell. Here we have regular conversation, and the freedom from plot advancement gives Hauser the opportunity to script a few zingers: A subplot about dope, in particular, flies.

Ultimately, Don't Ask Don't Tell comes off as a little strained and there is little of the new footage that I couldn't have lived without. So be it. It's harmless at worst and at best a good time. The DVD edition includes undoctored scenes from Killers from Space (these few clips make you grateful to be spared the feature), as well as a rather too madcap commentary track.

Aka Aliens from Space, Killers from Space.



Don't Ask Don't Tell

Facts and Figures

Run time: 75 mins

In Theaters: Friday 5th April 2002

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 36%
Fresh: 4 Rotten: 7

IMDB: 4.4 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

After the thunderous reception for J.J. Abrams' Episode VII: The Force Awakens two years ago,...

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Like the 2015 original, this comedy plays merrily with cliches to tell a silly story...

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

There's a somewhat contrived jauntiness to this blending of fact and fiction that may leave...

Ferdinand Movie Review

Ferdinand Movie Review

This animated comedy adventure is based on the beloved children's book, which was published in...

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Director Dave McCary makes a superb feature debut with this offbeat black comedy, which explores...

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

A dramatisation of the real-life clash between tennis icons Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs,...

Shot Caller Movie Review

Shot Caller Movie Review

There isn't much subtlety to this prison thriller, but it's edgy enough to hold the...

Advertisement
The Disaster Artist Movie Review

The Disaster Artist Movie Review

A hilariously outrageous story based on real events, this film recounts the making of the...

Stronger Movie Review

Stronger Movie Review

Based on a true story about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, this looks like one...

Only the Brave Movie Review

Only the Brave Movie Review

Based on a genuinely moving true story, this film undercuts the realism by pushing its...

Wonder Movie Review

Wonder Movie Review

This film may be based on RJ Palacio's fictional bestseller, but it approaches its story...

Happy End  Movie Review

Happy End Movie Review

Austrian auteur Michael Haneke isn't known for his light touch, but rather for hard-hitting, award-winning...

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Seemingly from out of nowhere, this film generates perhaps the biggest smile of any movie...

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

A Victorian thriller with rather heavy echoes of Jack the Ripper, this film struggles to...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.