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flick pick | M*A*S*H 1970
Directed by: Robert Altman
Written by: Ring Lardner Jr.
Starring: Donald Sutherland, Elliott Gould, Tom Skerritt, Sally Kellerman, Robert Duvall
Language: English
Look for it at the video store under: comedy
Watch it when you’re in the mood for something: darkly comic
The critic says: / 5 the rating system explained
Fun factor: ½/5 

Plot synopsis In a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital during the Korean War, it's a day-in, day-out, struggle to make sure that despite the chaos of sitting smack in the center of a bloody war, life wins out in the end. As an endless stream of injured soldiers arrives, the doctors and nurses work hard to save their patients' lives. To keep their own lives bearable, they play hard too, finding fun and relaxation, camaraderie and comfort, all in the unlikeliest of places. At the center of MASH hijinks are Hawkeye Pierce and his willing partner in crime, Trapper McIntyre - dedicated surgeons, committed jokesters, and frequent rabble-rousers. Whether they're fighting the bureaucracy to make sure they can give their patients the best care possible, or gleefully devising some prank at the expense of the oh-so-serious colleagues who favor protocol over good common sense, Hawkeye and Trapper are determined to remain fun-loving, free-thinking individuals in an institution that doesn't exactly encourage those traits.

Review My favorite kind of funny has always been the sort that treads the line between serious and silly, the sort that makes you laugh at things that everybody knows you're not supposed to really laugh at. To me, that kind of humor has always seemed more true to life than the slapstick, jokey variety; it has a depth, a weight, a connection to something real, that makes it stick with you even after you've let out that little chuckle or big guffaw. Which explains why I love Robert Altman's M*A*S*H, despite the fact that its sense of humor is very dark, deeply un-P.C., and occasionally a tad mean-spirited. It's easy for me to laugh when M*A*S*H casts its satirical eye at hypocritical religious nuts or pompously ineffective bureaucrats, people and ideas and institutions I'm liable to mock myself. What's harder is deciding whether to laugh when it's at the expense of someone I can partially identify with. As a woman, I feel a little outraged whenever Hawkeye, Trapper and the rest of the boys harass Margaret "Hotlips" Houlihan. Are they teasing her because she's an uptight military robot with no sense of humor, or because she's a hot nurse who refuses to give these cocky doctors a second glance? And does the why really matter, when they're humiliating someone whose only real crime is trying to do her job in the way she's always been taught? Altman's heroes are far from perfect -- there's a lot to adore about the wise-cracking Hawkeye Pierce, but he can be a downright bastard at times too -- and this is what makes the characters three-dimensional, and interesting, and provocative. So maybe a part of the reason M*A*S*H wins me over is because it makes me laugh even when I'm not sure I want to -- then leaves me thinking about why. But mostly, there's just something irresistible to me about the way Altman's quirky, freewheeling comedy pulls me along on a ride that leads to the most unexpectedly amusing places. War is a terrible, tragic thing, no doubt, but Altman and his splendiferous cast show how it's possible -- maybe even essential -- to keep laughing, keep hoping, keep questioning, keep living, even when there's so much death and disappointment all around.
—reviewed by Yee-Fan Sun

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