The Patriot

By Mark Ramsey | 2000/07/02

It’s unnerving when the guy behind the concession counter is dressed like a Revolutionary War soldier, particularly when he resembles a casualty in the battle of the freezer aisle.

From the looks of him, never has a meal been taxed without his representation. No wonder the National Park Service provides tours of the Liberty Bell or whatever that is under his shirt. Don’t tread on him, Redcoats – not unless you have mountain climbing gear, anyway. Why elect representatives when this one guy is twelve of the thirteen colonies?

patriot_melsface.jpgLeave it to Mel Gibson to put the “star” in “stars and stripes”.

The Patriot is written by Robert Rodat, the same guy who penned Saving Private Ryan and now seems to be writing his way through the armed conflicts of history, one at a time.

This movie features the funniest hats this side of a Milan catwalk. What was the purpose of these three-pointed chapeaus, anyway? From above, America looks like colonies of mouse pointers.

Something tells me certain events in this movie had less to do with writer Rodat than with the producer/director team of Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich – the guys behind another Independence Day, the one where Randy Quaid made the Earth safe for booze-hounds.

For example, there’s the scene where Mel’s daughter-in-law lectures the townsfolk in church, spurring them to fight for Independence. One by one the men rise to accept the challenge as the music swells to a crescendo and the minister, Odo from Star Trek DS9, shape shifts into a round of applause.

And then there’s the scene where Mel’s waiting in his camp virtually alone, believing nobody else will come to join the fight – when, one by one, everyone comes to join the fight and they bring along an entire John Williams orchestration.

I can see Rodat rolling his eyes and saying, “Okay, Dean and Roland, whatever you say.”

In these old days, war was so civilized, wasn’t it? Line after line of musket-toting troops were thrust against each other leading to the most obvious question in the whole Revolutionary War: Who in their right mind would want to be in the front line?

Mel’s a farmer, a patriot, and a Three Stooges fan – a combination exceedingly rare in 1776. He’s less a founding father and more a floundering dad to the most well-mannered kiddies this side of Wally and the Beav. Forget the fight for Independence! Principle be damned! This war is about nurturing, baby! It’s a Colonial Eight is Enough, and the best defense against a British offense is a group hug!


There’s a conspiracy afoot in this movie. Mel is often on a horse, but he’s never shown climbing onto it. Mel approaches horse, cut away, cut back to Mel who is now on horse. Come to think of it, I haven’t seen Mel mount much of anything since Patsy Kensit in Lethal Weapon 2.

This movie is more than 2 1/2 hours long, so if you’re in a hurry why not take the express route and winter at Valley Forge. Much of the pokey pace is due to the leisurely star spangled banter and Mel’s habit of fighting in slow motion. “Puuuuuussssshhhh Foooorrrrwwwaaaarrrrd!,” shouts Mel. “Hooolllllddd ttthhhheeee Liiiiiiiiiine!,” he groans as he slowly waves the flag overhead. Why nobody aims for the guy running in slow motion with the flag I’ll never know. At this rate, I’ll have time to learn the fife and drums.

All in all, The Patriot is strangely satisfying. It’s better than The Perfect Storm, that’s for sure. Now excuse me as I buy some popcorn from the concession counter minuteman. Beware! This soldier has absorbed too many Yankee Cheese Doodles, and his flank is exposed!


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