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Protocol
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by Jack Sommersby

"Not a Single Laugh to be Found"
1 stars

Came out the same year as "Swing Shift," which Hawn fared much better in.

The paralyzingly insipid Protocol provides one with the opportunity to see just how valuable the quality of a screenplay can be. This Goldie Hawn star vehicle was executive-produced by Hawn and written by Buck Henry based on a story by Charles Shyer and Nancy Myers and Harvey Miller, whereas Hawn’s previous star vehicle, the fine box-office smash Private Benjamin, was also executive-produced by Hawn and written by Shyer and Myers and Miller, with Henry nowhere within spitting distance of it, and the difference between these two comedies is considerable. Hawn’s spoiled-since-birth high-society Judy Benjamin, who, due to being promised posh accommodations by a manipulative military recruiter, enlisted in the Army after her wealthy husband suffered a fatal heart attack a mere six hours after being married (he kicked the bucket while having sex with his bride on the bathroom floor of their posh house); but after a rocky start, even though her well-connected Philadelphia father arranged for her to leave the Army, she decided to stick it out, and the chief pleasure of the movie was her showing a long-dormant intelligence and becoming the standout of her unit and, finally, an independent woman. In Protocol, she plays ditsy D.C. cocktail waitress Sunny Davis, who inadvertently saves the life of a Middle Eastern emir from an assassination and is rewarded with a good-paying job in the Protocol department by a government that wants to curry favor with the emir so they can establish a military base in his country for strategic purposes – only, unknown to Sunny, the emir wants to take her as one of his multiple wives in exchange. Unlike with Private Benjamin, however, the “after” Hawn character is little different than the “before” one, with neither even the least bit interesting. They’re both bland entrees. And this goes right back to the writing. Mind you, Private Benjamin had a heavy-handed final third that almost derailed it, but it had a cluster of funny lines and a bright supporting cast who gave Hawn a run for her money; in Protocol, the dialogue is consistently mediocre, with the only semi-amusing ones having to do with the near-uselessness of being a Vice President. And Hawn just isn’t the life of the party the way she was as Judy Benjamin as well as the indigent-persons-defending attorney in the Neil Simon-scripted Seems Like Old Times, which came out the same year and boasted in Hawn the best performance by an actress of 1980. Here she seems unsure and aloft, which is probably understandable given the vapidity of the character – Sunny just doesn’t have enough sides to her, and because of the miscasting of the talented but uncharismatic Chris Sarandon as the love interest, Hawn has to do all the lifting whereas in Private Benjamin she had the assured, smoldering Armand Assante to play off of. And though Herbert Ross proved himself capable of greater things than just your typical director-for-hire with the excellent Steve Martin musical Pennies from Heaven, here he seems to be on automatic pilot, phoning in one uninspired scene after another with all the verve of a Rotary Club luncheon. Protocol is direly devoid of distinction. It's amazing the whole damn mess managed to stick to celluloid.

Available only on a full-frame DVD, which will be bad news for the movie's 2 or 3 fans in the world.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=32724&reviewer=327
originally posted: 11/28/18 07:36:30
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User Comments

11/28/18 Alex This has 2 or 3 fans? That's 2 or 3 too many! 1 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  21-Dec-1984 (PG)

UK
  N/A

Australia
  N/A


Directed by
  Herbert Ross

Written by
  Buck Henry

Cast
  Goldie Hawn
  Chris Sarandon
  Richard Romanus
  Andre Gregory
  Gail Strickland



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