If three of “The Magnificent Seven” had been Gomer Pyle, the result might have looked like “Delta Farce,” a movie rife with fat, fart and Fallujah jokes, but with a subcutaneous wit that has a lot to do with Iraq war fatigue. Comedy has its own not-so-selective-service system in place for drafting fans of Larry the Cable Guy, but other auds, too, may find the benefits worth the deployment.
Predictably, most of the humor in this “Stripes” subordinate is of the redneck variety, as three “weekend warriors” get mustered out for a mission to Iraq, fall asleep on the plane and wake up in the Mexican desert. The hapless trio — Larry (Larry the Cable Guy), Bill (Bill Engvall) and Everett (D.J. Qualls) — conclude they’re already in Iraq, since there’s sun, sand and people of color. Sure, the pinatas and the Negra Modelo should have clued them in, but these are idiots we’re talking about, of the “Dr. Howard … Dr. Fine … Dr. Howard” kind.
On their trail is Sgt. Kilgore (played with particular panache by Keith David), a hard-shell Army despot who has dragged our three heroes off their womblike National Guard base and whipped them into something resembling human form. It doesn’t help his disposition that Larry, Bill and Everett, having found Kilgore unconscious, decided he was dead and buried him in the desert. Or that the three troops, having wandered into a Mexican village and chased out a band of banditos (whom they mistook for Iraqi insurgents), have incurred the wrath of their lethal and unfortunately named gangleader, Carlos Santana (Danny Trejo).
Helmed by TV comedy director C.B. Harding (“Blue Collar,” “The Osbournes”), “Delta Farce” is instructive. For one thing, it shows the evolution of Hollywood’s relationship to the Iraq war through various movies, from support to critique to outright derision. It also shows, very specifically, what separates “Delta Farce” from sophisticated comedy: “You think Everett’s mother drank through her pregnancy?” asks Bill. “Yeah,” answers Larry, “and I’m guessing she drank paint thinner, too.”
The first line is funny enough all by itself; the second is intended for those who didn’t get the first. Wit shouldn’t have to stoop to conquer.
“Delta” is likable, though, and both David and Trejo class up the act with their distinct comedic gifts (in Trejo’s case, who knew?). LTCG, Engvall and Quall, who’s so skinny he makes Steve Buscemi look like “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, all have their particular niches and know what they are, even if their characters don’t know where they are. (“It’s not just a job, it’s an adventure,” says Larry. “That’s the Navy,” says Bill, “but I know what you’re saying.”)
Production values, although totally irrelevant, are adequate.