Every once in a while we come across those films that we may see in the theater or on DVD and think how we like it enough to sit through it again.  And again.  And again.  I like to call these types of films “Re-watchables”.  These are not to be confused with their counterparts, the “Un-watchables”, which we’ll cover at a later date.

With the US release of Tom Cruise’s new film Knight and Day this week, I thought it prudent to look back and one of his re-watchables, A Few Good Men.  Now, I know there are plenty of films in the Tom Cruise canon to choose from, but A Few Good Men, for me, is the one film of his that no matter when it’s on, I will inevitably turn it over, and watch it from whatever point it’s at to the end.

A Few Good Men is based on a play of the same name that was written by Alan Sorkin, who also happened to write the screenplay.  Directed by Rob Reiner and starring Tom Cruise, Demi Moore, Kevin Pollack, Jack Nicholson, Keifer Sutherland, Kevin Bacon, J.T. Walsh as well as loads of others, the story follows a trio of JAG lawyers as they face the daunting task of defending two marines who are on trial for the murder of a fellow soldier.  Having to face off against the marine’s Commanding Officer as well as the prosecution, the trio find that there is much more to this trial than what was originally thought.  There are battles fought, lost and won in this film, but not in the tradition sense of a military film.  The battles here are fought in the courtroom and the result is just as tense as battlefield scene I’ve seen.

One of the most remarkable things about this film is the cast.  You couldn’t get a stronger group of actors together that fit their roles perfectly if you tried.  I never once felt that any of the characters were mis-cast in any way.  Each character is given their fair share of screen time and in the scenes where the younger cats share the spotlight with the veterans, they are able to hold their own and aren’t diminished or overshadowed at all.  One of the most unique things about the film is there’s not really any special effects.  There really aren’t any stunts and it doesn’t rely on any type of visual gimmicks.  It’s a straight character driven film that benefits from not having any of those other elements.

As I stated before, I can pick this movie up at any point and be perfectly content to watch the rest of it.  I have a few films that I’m like that with and this is most certainly one of them.  I recently had a conversation with a friend about how this film just never gets old.  The payoff of the film is the money-shot scene in the end.  It’s one of those scene you just HAVE to see.  If you’ve seen it, you know exactly what I’m talking about.  The shock that Cruise’s character feels and shows, is the same thing the audience goes through as well.  It’s rare when an audience mirrors the exact emotions the character is going through in that sense.  We all cry, laugh, scream or jump when characters do, but for some reason, this is different.  It’s a cringe-worthy scene but in a good way and totally worth every minute of film that precedes it.

This film is timeless in every sense.  There are no fashion trends that you can pick out, save for one scene in which Demi Moore is sporting some shoulder pads.  There isn’t really any discernable music to mark the period in which the film is set.  A trained eye could probably pick out nuances with the military uniform that may give it away but for the most part, it could take place today just as easily as it did in 1992 (OMG it’s really 18 years old?!) when it was released.  Being surprised at the age of a film can also be a sign of a truly great piece of work. 

I remember the day I saw this film in the theater.  I went with my best friend to a matinee and we snuck in a small pizza fresh from the pizza parlor.  Once the film started, I was hooked.  I don’t think we even really whispered to each other throughout the film, it was that good.  The pizza was mighty tasty as well.

Tom Cruise has been in the headlines for reasons other than his films over the course of the last few years, but when you watch a film like A Few Good Men, you remember what a great actor he truly can be.  I’m interested to see Knight and Day and will report back to you with my findings.  It looks like a return to the Cruise of old which will be great.  But if you want the truth, even if maybe you can’t handle the truth, A Few Good Men was lightening in a bottle and will be hard to surpass.  I strenuously recommend watching this film if you haven’t seen it, or re-watching it if you have.