McHale's Navy (1997 film)

McHale's Navy is a 1997 American military comedy film starring Tom Arnold. It is based on the 1962-1966 television series of the same name. Ernest Borgnine was the only member of the original television show's cast to appear in the film.

McHale's Navy
Mchales navy poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byBryan Spicer
Produced byBill Sheinberg
Jon Sheinberg
Sid Sheinberg
Written byPeter Crabbe
Andy Rose
Music byDennis McCarthy
CinematographyBuzz Feitshans IV
Edited byRussell Denove
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • April 18, 1997 (1997-04-18)
Running time
108 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$42 million[1][2]
Box office$4.5 million[3][1]

The film was a critical and commercial failure.


On Caribbean, on the Island of San Moreno, a trio of important looking men (a Chinese militant, a Russian General, and a European businessman) are meeting with the island's governor. After paying him a suitcase full of money for a special operation, the three men are joined, via helicopter, by Major Vladakov (Tim Curry), the second best terrorist in the world, who will be in charge of the operation. This entire event is witnessed by a young boy named Roberto who takes pictures of the governor, the Major, and his men.

The next morning finds retired Lt. Commander Quinton McHale (Tom Arnold) making his way to the Naval base of San Ysidro, where he does some trading with the officers. Such goods and services include selling home-brewed beer, ice cream, and swimsuit calendars to the men of the San Ysidro Naval Base in exchange for things like medicine and satellite photos to help out the people of San Moreno. The satellite photos are actually his way of spying on the opposing children's baseball team. Stationed at the base are his old crew: Virgil (Bruce Campbell), a cigar-chomping ladies man and gunner; Happy (French Stewart), the team lookout who lives in a treehouse; Willie (Henry Cho), the team techie and moonshine maker; Gruber (Danton Stone), a slightly portly card-player and cigar horder; and Christy (Brian Haley), the group's musclehead who can unscrew a bottle cap with his eye.

However, the base is now commanded by newly arrived Captain Wallace B. Binghamton (Dean Stockwell) and Lieutenant Penelope Carpenter (Debra Messing). Capt. Binghamton believes his men have gone native and confiscates all of the products McHale has sold them. He wants to resurrect his career after having mistakenly sunk a luxury cruise liner, for which he is famously known.

Vladakov takes control of the baseball field and beach on San Moreno to set up his base of operations. After Roberto inadvertently alerts Vladakov to McHale's presence, (mostly thanks to the jersey that McHale gave him and the team), Vladakov uses his new stealth boat to blow up McHale's home and nearly destroys his PT-73, a decommissioned PT Boat, which reveals that they have a rather bad history with each other. When the governor tells Vladakov that his operations are disrupting the lives of the villagers, Vladakov and his men invade the village during their fiesta, blowing it up, and displacing everyone that lived there.

At the Pentagon, Cobra (Ernest Borgnine), who is a Naval Admiral, finds out about Vladakov's presence on San Moreno and instructs Binghamton to stand down in favor of McHale, revealing that he was once a highly decorated, top covert-operative. This shocks Binghamton, but he relays the message to McHale. McHale rejects the mission, saying he wants nothing to do with it, or with Binghamton. Upon learning that the village was destroyed, McHale accepts the assignment with the stipulations that he be given his old crew, men stationed at San Ysidro, and complete autonomy from Binghamton. Binghamton appears to agree but enlists Ensign Charles Parker (David Alan Grier) to spy on McHale. Slowly both Parker and Carpenter realize that Binghamton is an incompetent officer.

McHale sets up a camp site for the villagers and, after invading Vladakov's base to find out what's going on, heads to Cuba for supplies to fix the re-commissioned PT-73 and to combat Vladakov. McHale and his crew use a pirated variety show broadcast to prevent Vladakov from stealing missile launch codes and entertain the villagers. Binghamton, tired of sitting on the side lines, attempts an attack on Vladakov's base but upon arrival, it is vacated and shown to be a front. Vladakov has killed the men that hired him to blow up The Pentagon as his motives are finally revealed. He was monitoring communications between McHale and Cobra and is aware that Cobra is en route to San Moreno to help take out Vladakov.

Vladakov attempts to kill Cobra using his stealth boat. Roberto is aboard and he tries to short out the boat to no avail. He is captured by Vladakov, but manages to jump ship. After Ensign Parker saves Roberto, McHale successfully kills Vladakov using a torpedo he bought in Cuba, as revenge for Vladakov killing Roberto's father in Panama. Cobra lands safely and reveals that he is McHale's father, none other than now Admiral Quinton McHale, Sr. and former WWII era commander of the PT-73.

Finally, the film ends with the commendations of McHale's crew, and the promotions of Lt. Carpenter and Ensign Parker, the US Navy rebuilding the baseball field, McHale re-retiring so that he may pursue a relationship with Carpenter, and Binghamton's apparent demotion to umpire for a kids' baseball game.



Box officeEdit

In its opening weekend the film earned $2.2 million and came in 7th place at the box office. It grossed a total of $4.5 million in ticket sales, against a production budget of $42 million.[1]

Sidney Sheinberg, whose production company Bubble Factory produced the film for Universal, said: "McHale’s Navy was a disaster. I'm not pretending it wasn’t a disaster".[4]

Critical responseEdit

On Rotten Tomatoes the film holds an approval rating of 3% based on 29 reviews, with an average rating of 2.01/10 and the consensus: "About as funny as a keelhauling, McHale's Navy will leave most viewers feeling they've been the victim of a particularly dishonorable discharge."[5] On Metacritic the film has a weighted average score of 18 out of 100, based on 10 critics, indicating "overwhelming dislike".[6] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "C+" on scale of A to F.[7]

Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote in a very negative review: "By the end, this soporific comedy makes 105 minutes feel more like a two-year hitch."[8] Leonard Klady of Variety wrote: "Time and adapters have not been kind to the fun-loving series."[9]


McHale's Navy was nominated for a Razzie Award for Worst Remake or Sequel, losing to Speed 2: Cruise Control. It won the awards for Worst Actor (Arnold) and Worst Resurrection of a TV Show at the 1997 Stinkers Bad Movie Awards.


  1. ^ a b c "McHale's Navy (1997) - Financial Information". The Numbers. Retrieved 2020-02-02.
  2. ^ JOAL RYAN (March 2, 1998). "The Bottom Line on Box-Office Champs (and Chumps)". E! Online.
  3. ^ "McHale's Navy (1997)". Box Office Mojo. 1997-05-09. Retrieved 2016-11-17.
  4. ^ JAMES BATES (11 June 1997). "Sheinberg, Universal End Production Deal After 2 Years". Los Angeles Times.
  5. ^ "McHale's Navy (1997)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2020-04-04.
  6. ^ "McHale's Navy". Metacritic. Retrieved 2020-04-04.
  7. ^ "MC HALE'S NAVY (1997) C+". CinemaScore. Archived from the original on 2018-12-20.
  8. ^ LaSalle, Mick. "Humor Is AWOL in `McHale's Navy'". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2020-04-04.
  9. ^ Klady, Leonard (18 April 1997). "McHale's Navy". Variety.

External linksEdit