review for Down Periscope on AllMovie

Down Periscope (1996)
by Karl Williams review

One groan-inducing gag after another is pretty much the formula of this tired, sitcom-level comedy that despite a tightly plotted script remains remarkably free of laughs. Maybe he's just playing "above it all" in his role of a sub skipper, but star Kelsey Grammer appears distinctly uncomfortable, even pained, perhaps accustomed to a higher level of comedy than these dumb, potty-humored hijinks. Speaking of uncomfortable, it's supremely ironic that a joke is built around a uniform that shrinks to reveal the curvaceous form of co-star Lauren Holly. That's because the "regular" outfit she wears the rest of the time is so skin-tight snug that the actress appears to be doubling as a flotation device. (More bizarrely ridiculous is that a crew of randy Navy men comprised of inept rejects barely notices her.) Characters are seemingly lifted from a "how to" book on simple-minded comedy, and comic business is overplayed with such emphatic obviousness that one wonders if the film's target demographic is inebriated bar patrons. It's marketed as a comedy, and supporting player Rob Schneider occasionally taps the funny bone, but viewers will be hard-pressed to locate the entertainment here without any truly hilarious events, dialogue, or characters. More amusing than funny, but not nearly enough of either, Down Periscope (1996) just doesn't hold water.