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Volunteers (film)

1985 Comedy about a blue blood who hides out in the Peace Corps.

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A bridge too far, but not far enough

  • Oct 12, 2011
It's always nice to take a look at something from Tom Hank's pre Philadelphia days to see when he was more of a comedic actor.  Sure, this movie isn't remembered all that well and anyone who remembers it at all is going to think of Tom Hank's silly New England snob voice.

Taking place in the early 60's, Tom Hanks stars Lawerence Bourne III, a blue blood's college son who loves to gamble, drink and lose money hoping that his rich father will bail him out, and literally when the debtor is at his doorstep, daddy won't lend the money thinking that this is the lesson that his son needs to grow up. 

Making a break for it, Lawerence takes his friend's place on a plane for the Peace Corps and heads to Thailand where a construction project is going under way to build the locals a bridge so that....they can get to the other side.  No, really thats about it.  The bridge is coveted by the Army who want to launch a strike into China and Red China the same way, while the local drug Kingpin sees it as an opportunity to make even more money selling Opium.  This all leaves Lawerence and his new friends in the middle with the villagers as to what to do.

The movie has sporadic bits of humor and it comes in fits and surges and some of it is spoken, some physical and it even delves into obvious jokes like the Asian characters speaking l's for r's but it does pay off with a better joke later on.  If the movie stayed more funny it could have been better.  However, the movie isn't too subtle about getting political.  The army makes no bones about using the bridge for they're attack into China and China vice versa.  One of the villagers, who Lawerence makes friends with tells another Peace Corps member Tom Tuttle (from Tacoma Washington) that he knows nothing of the culture in the area when he wants to use sacred trees to build the bridge with and the ending really hammers it home but thankfully the resolution paints the politics in a subtle way that the movie could have benefited from.

Volunteers in the end isn't horrible but it's not that memorable.  Not funny enough to be a great comedy nor is it talky enough to be a drama piece.  It's not a BAD movie but staying too much in the middle it settles on being average.
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November 09, 2011
Not one of my favorites either.
October 12, 2011
I think I skipped this one more than once....
October 13, 2011
It's worth seeing once, but it won't knock your socks off. Nicholas Meyer directed this who is known for directing Star Trek 2, 6 and The Day After.
More Volunteers (film) reviews
Quick Tip by . October 06, 2011
Snooty blue blood escapes to Thailand with the Peace Corps and finds himself caught up in a conflict between the Army, Chinese and the local drug lord. Should have either been funnier or less broad with the politics when they got brought up, but it isn't bad.
About the reviewer
John Nelson ()
Ranked #8
Born in Wausau Wisconsin. Move at an early age to Ventura California and lived for 8 years. Growing up in a big city landscape didn't prepare me for my next move: Archbold Ohio with a population of … more
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