History Channel // 2004 // 53 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Roy Hrab (Retired) // August 8th, 2007
Situation Normal, All [Fouled] Up!
For the uninitiated, Mail Call is a series produced by The History Channel (Mail Call: The Best Of Season One). The host is retired drill instructor and Marine Gunnery Sgt. R. Lee Ermey of Full Metal Jacket fame. The premise is simple: viewers send in military related questions and Ermey (or "Gunny") answers them with his trademark gusto. He also gets to fire guns at watermelons.
Mail Call: S.N.A.F.U. presents Gunny's not-so-finest moments on the show. We get to see Ermey flub his lines, have vintage firearms and motor vehicles malfunction, wear stylish uniforms, swat flies out of his face, deal with uncooperative animal guest stars, and face various other problems. It's a quick 53-minute ride. Each segment is introduced and sometimes narrated by Gunny. It's entertaining to watch the man who spouted profanity laced diatribes without a hitch in Full Metal Jacket stumbling over the pronunciation over words like "munitions," "Agincourt," and "Peloponnesian." There are also his failed attempts to get "Molly" the bulldog and "Topper" the horse to behave. The gaffes are funny but pedestrian and are more likely to induce chuckles than side-splitting laughter.
The show isn't all blunders. The show adds a couple of segments when guns did not misfire, allowing Gunny to shoot watermelons, and sometimes cans of spam and paint, to shreds. You can tell Lee is having a hoot. The most impressive scene is when he is firing a .50-caliber M2 Browning Heavy Machine Gun, leading an off-camera crew member to exclaim: "That's just insane!" There's also a segment on his jeep, which Gunny describes as "My Little Honey," that includes a scene of Ermey racing against a dragster. These are welcome additions. After all, you can only watch Ermey (or anyone for that matter) get tongue-tied, swear, or have a gun misfire so many times.
This show does not have a huge budget and the video and audio are nothing fancy, but both get the job done adequately. However, these matters are beside the point: the show is built around Ermey's larger-than-life personality, not production values.
The only extras are the options of watching the "Family Friendly" version with the profanities replaced with various non-offensive sound effects or the uncensored "Xtra-Salty" version. The language in the "Xtra-Salty" version is relatively tame, never hitting the levels of Full Metal Jacket.
Overall, Mail Call: S.N.A.F.U. is a reasonably amusing release that will go over well with existing fans, but wider appeal is questionable. For those not familiar with the series, this clip show serves as a good introduction. However, those not appreciative of Ermey's "salty" language, firearms, and military matters should take a pass.
As Gunny says: Semper fi! Carry on!
Review content copyright © 2007 Roy Hrab; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: History Channel
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 53 Minutes
Release Year: 2004
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* "Family Friendly" Version
* "Xtra-Salty" Version
* The History Channel: Mail Call
* R. Lee Ermey's Official Site