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Originally published Friday, February 29, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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"Military Intelligence and You!" a very clever satire

An ingenious satire that could easily tip toward self-congratulation yet never does, "Military Intelligence and You! " is a comic assault...

Special to The Seattle Times

Movie review 3 stars

"Military Intelligence and You!" with Patrick Muldoon, Elizabeth Bennett, Mackenzie Astin. Written and directed by Dale Kutzera.

78 minutes. Not rated, suitable for older kids and up. Varsity. Kutzera will attend the evening screenings today and Saturday.

To read an interview with Kutzera, see today's Northwest Life section or go to www.seattletimes.com/movies.

An ingenious satire that could easily tip toward self-congratulation yet never does, "Military Intelligence and You!" is a comic assault on the Bush administration's policy of preventive war in Iraq.

But there's nothing strident about filmmaker and former Seattleite Dale Kutzera's political barbs, couched as they are in an unusual parody.

Kutzera, a television writer ("Without a Trace"), has made a hobby of re-editing other people's feature films (including Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo") for his own amusement. With "Military Intelligence," he's come up with a kind of reconstituted cinema made up of excerpts from 1940s battle dramas and original footage.

The finished work is an extended goof on starchy, military training films of long ago.

"Military Intelligence and You!" purports to be a declassified production from World War II, focusing on the need for developing good intelligence about the enemy before waging a fight. We see the issue from two sides: the unfortunately successful efforts of Nazi interrogators to get information from downed American pilots, and frustration among the good guys over locating a secret base of German fighter planes.

Both story lines borrow liberally from war movies starring the likes of William Holden, Arthur Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and Alan Ladd. Kutzera stitches the vintage material into a new story starring Patrick Muldoon ("Starship Troopers"), Elizabeth Bennett ("Point Pleasant") and Mackenzie Astin ("Lost") about repeated failures to find the hidden air base. With the success of a crucial, Allied mission hinging on daredevil reconnaissance, the story takes on obvious allusions to America's invasion of Iraq based on faulty and incomplete intelligence.

"Nobody said this fight would be easy," goes one pointed and particularly funny line, "except for the president, the vice president, the secretary of defense, the secretary of state and the head of the FBI." In a more aggressive farce about the war in Iraq, a line like that might be singularly shrill. In Kutzera's sideways comedy, it hits the target quite nicely.

Tom Keogh: tomwkeogh@yahoo.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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