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Thursday, October 5, 2023

Major Payne (1995) – Movie Review




War hero takes over struggling JROTC program. That should be a great fit right? Normally the answer would be a resounding “SIR YES SIR!”, however that is absolutely NOT the case when that war hero is Major Benson Payne (Damon Wayans). Major Payne was honorably discharged from the Marines because he quite literally killed all the enemies. As a result, he is thrust back into life and forced to deal with adjusting back into civilian life.


He is given a new “assignment” by his General (Albert Hall) and sets off to take over the JROTC at Madison Preparatory School. The kids are used to basically running the program how they want and are not too happy about the Major’s presence. The Major absolutely feels the same times 100, and he lets them know it. Of course, a battle ensues where they are all trying to state their dominance and prove who is in charge.


I just really want to know who thought that a man who was used to killing people and lacked ALL compassion, empathy and other human emotions should be working with children. In the end it worked out for the best, but my goodness was it battle. This man threw a GRENADE at these kids, and he shaved all of them bald! The only thing he seemed to care about in the beginning was a teacher at the school; Emily Walburn (Karyn Parsons). She was the gentle, compassionate, soul while he was a no nonsense, insensitive, cold soldier.


I do love that we got to see the growth of the Major’s character as the movie progressed. From him telling little Tiger (Orlando Brown) a bedtime story (after shooting up the closet) to helping a cadet that had an abusive father (Eddie Kaye Thomas). He even had the chance to go back into the military and while he originally accepted, he ultimately decided to stay with the kids. He goes back and they win the championship bringing everything full circle.


While there were some major (no pun intended) flaws with the logic of having the Major take over the program in my opinion it worked out for the better. He was able to be a constant figure in the boys’ lives and give them the sternness they needed, they also were able to soften him and help him reacclimate himself to civilian life. The movie was very well written and directed in my opinion and I think it has also aged well. If you haven’t seen it, I’m not sure why but it’s definitely worth checking out.

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