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Lt. Commander Thomas Dodge has dreamed all of his life about helming his own nuclear submarine. He's popular with his men, a brilliant tactician, and he has instincts of a nouveau Ulysses. But when his name comes up for a promotion, some members of the Naval brass blanch and bristle. Unfortunately, Tom Dodge not only has an ancient vessel to contend with, but he must also make sailors out of a motley crew from which six men dubiously emerge.
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Possible alternatives in the same kind of comedy genre (but in my opinion much better) include Something About Mary, American Pie and Mystery Date. I think all of those will give a much better bang for the buck, while still not taxing your mind too much.
I have seen almost all of these actors in other roles from NCIS to any of slue of Jerry Bruckheimer shows. The characters they portray in those other roles are so 180 degrees from their goof-ball characters in this movie that it's sometimes difficult to accept their more serious roles. Then again, that's why they're actors.
Some people have complained that the movie does not comply with all of the customs and courtesies of military bearing (saluting, reporting for duty in civilian dress, etc.), while some of that is true, let's not forget that this is a movie designed for laughter. As a retired military member, I can waive the minor inconsistencies in favor of enjoying this movie.
In summation, if you want a fun movie that'll get you laughing, still present quality acting, tells a story, makes you woot for heroes, then this is that movie. I've watched it countless times and will continue to do so. I do so not because I'm enamoured with any particular actor, but simply because I love this film.
Yes now in the days where anyone can get his or her hands on low tech equipment, such as diesel subs, is our high tech defenses ready. Look what happened to Argentina when their submarine broke?
Rear Admiral Yancy Graham (Bruce Dern) is betting his reputation of the readiness if the Navy and will go to any length to make sure the intrusion test fails.
Now that you know the story, It's not the contest but how the people interact under stress. They did not let any submarine cliche out of this picture. Even the nervy "lets see what depth this will take" scene.
Look for my three favorite scenes:
When Admiral Graham is welcomed aboard he looks and says "What is that supposed to mean!"
Lieutenant Lake being almost out of uniform.
Executive Officer Martin Pascal is forced to walk the plank.
And despite being a dumb movie, "Down Periscope" is still entertaining, and you can't help but root for the ragtag underdogs that are the movie's unlikely protagonists.
Lieutenant Commander Thomas Dodge (Kelsey Grammar) is an unorthodox -- and some might say irresponsible -- navy officer who's disappointed at getting turned down for a post as a submarine commander, in no small part thanks to the scheming of the arrogant Admiral Graham, who thinks he's totally unsuited for the job. But another commander sees potential in Dodge's strange ways, and so he presents a unique challenge -- a war game in which Dodge will command an outdated diesel-powered submarine called the Stingray, and says if he can win the war game, he'll be put in command of a top-of-the-line nuclear submarine. Dodge is reluctant but takes on the role, and finds himself in command of a bunch of misfits as a crew -- an overeager and by-the-book executive officer (Rob Schneider), a crusty civilian engineer working the engine room, a foul-mouthed punk who'll do anything possible to get kicked off the ship, an eccentric and sharp-eared sonar engineer obsessed with whale songs (Harland Williams), a shock-happy electrical engineer, a compulsive gambler and the ex-football player who cost him a lot of money, and Lieutenant Lake, the first female dive officer in the Navy who causes no small amount of tension among the crew. The crew butts heads, but does their best to hold their team and their leaky sub together... all the while pitted against a top-of-the-line submarine and its capable crew, not to mention Admiral Graham's determination to see Dodge fail at any cost.
The film holds no real surprises -- if you've seen one "ragtag bunch of underdog misfits wins the day" movie, you've seen most of them, including this one. The cast is mostly full of stock characters, though a few of them are delightfully quirky enough to stand out (especially Williams' character). And I'm sure the inaccuracies in submarine life and Navy protocol will have sub-enthusiasts and Navy personnel/veterans facepalming -- though at least they got the "no women allowed on a submarine" part right, as only very recently have they allowed co-ed crews aboard Navy submarines.
All that said, though, this is still a fun movie to watch. The jokes are funny, and much of the humor comes from seeing this eclectic pack of outcasts bounce off each other and interact. Dodge handles everything the crew, ship, and his rivals throw at him with aplomb, and has some weird but creative solutions to sticky situations that you can't help but admire. His romance with Lieutenant Lake feels a bit forced, however, and it feels like Lake was thrown in to be the token female and provide some risqué jokes. Still, I can overlook this for the most part.
It sounds like I've put this movie down a lot, but I'll be honest -- it's one of my favorite comedies. I fully acknowledge that it's dumb, but I enjoy it nonetheless, and am fully willing to turn my brain off and just laugh for an hour and a half rather than sit down and pick it apart. If you need something lighthearted and goofy, or just want to see an underdog pull off the seemingly impossible, give this a shot. Definitely not for kids, though -- there's some language and innuendo.