Private Benjamin (1980) - Rotten Tomatoes

Private Benjamin1980

Private Benjamin (1980)



Critic Consensus: Private Benjamin proves a potent showcase for its Oscar-nominated star, with Hawn making the most of a story that rests almost completely on her daffily irresistible charm.

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Movie Info

Devastated when her brand-new husband (Albert Brooks) drops dead on their wedding night, Jewish American princess Judy Benjamin (Goldie Hawn) is receptive to the pitch delivered by a duplicitous recruiter for the Women's Army Corps. Quickly adivsed by topkick Captain Lewis (Eileen Brennan) that she should not look forward to the private room, fancy clothes and sauna bath that she'd been promised, Judy is forced to go through basic training like any other "grunt". This turns out to be a real growth experience for the pampered Private Benjamin, who for the first time in her life has to work for her privileges. A brief misadventure with a lascivious paratroop officer (Robert Webber) nearly sours Judy on army life, but she turns out to be a darned good soldier-and a woman with a highly developed sense of self-esteem, which enables her to weather a further disappointing romantic fling with French phsycian Henri Tremont (Armand Assante). Private Benjamin turned out to be one of Goldie Hawn's most profitable vehicles. The 1981-82 TV sitcom spinoff starred Lorna Patterson in Goldie's role, with Eileen Brennan repeating her film characterization of the long-suffering Captain Lewis. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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Goldie Hawn
as Judy Benjamin
Eileen Brennan
as Doreen Lewis
Armand Assante
as Henri Tremont
Sam Wanamaker
as Teddy Benjamin
Harry Dean Stanton
as Sgt. Jim Ballard
Robert Webber
as Clay Thornbush
Albert Brooks
as Yale Goodman
Mary Kay Place
as Pvt. Mary Lou Glass
Gretchen Wyler
as Aunt Kissy
Maxine Stuart
as Aunt Betty
Estelle Marlov
as Vocalist at Wedding
Everett Covin
as Bandleader
Lee Wallace
as Mr. Waxman
James Dybas
as Photographer
Lillian Adams
as Mrs. Goodman
Sandy Weintraub
as Harvey Goodman
Tim Haldeman
as Stanley Goodman
Kopi Sotiropulos
as Limo Passerby
Stu Nahan
as Newscaster
J.P. Bumstead
as Induction Officer
Hal Williams
as Sgt. L.C. Ross
Toni Kalem
as Pvt. Gianelli
Damita Jo Freeman
as Pvt. Gloria Moe
Alston Ahern
as Pvt. P.J. Soyer
P.J. Soles
as Pvt. Wanda Winter
Craig T. Nelson
as Capt. William Woodbridge
James Barnett
as Drill Instructor
Raymond Oliver
as Red Team Soldier #1
Robin Hoff
as Red Team Soldier #2
Danny Wells
as Slick Guy
Keone Young
as Kim Osaka
Ed Lewis
as Red Team Soldier #3
Paul Marin
as Leo Lemish
Mimi Maynard
as Liz Lemish
Clay Wright
as Helicopter Pilot
Richard Herd
as Brig. Gen. Foley
Alice Hirson
as Mrs. Thornbush
Wil Albert
as Lt. Rahmi
Denise Halma
as Gabrielle
Lilyan Chauvin
as Mrs. Tremont
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News & Interviews for Private Benjamin

Critic Reviews for Private Benjamin

All Critics (34) | Top Critics (7)

"Private Benjamin" seems coarse, sluggish and interminable as a comedy scenario, but the profoundly depressing aspect of it is that Goldie Hawn appears to be receding as a comedienne and emerging as a boss lady.

May 8, 2017 | Full Review…

This is arguably although unfortunately Goldie Hawn's most memorable role.

May 8, 2017 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

[Hawn's] not so gifted that she can carry a heavy load of indifferent material on her own two little shoulders, without considerable sagging.

March 26, 2009 | Full Review…

Another depressing example of the big-screen gag-string sitcom, it turns exclusively on a plot that grew from a concept that developed from an idea that somebody should never have had - Goldie Hawn joins the army.

February 9, 2006 | Full Review…
Top Critic

Mr. Zieff demonstrates great skill in keeping the gags aloft and in finding new ways by which to free the laughs trapped inside old routines about latrine duty, war games, forced marches and calisthenics.

August 30, 2004 | Full Review…

The film doesn't spoof the U.S. military as much as it pokes fun at people too fragile or ill-prepared for strict discipline, physical fitness, and zealous teamwork.

January 2, 2022 | Rating: 7/10 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Private Benjamin

One half of this situation comedy has a one joke premise that wears thin fast, that of a poor little rich girl forced to live out of her ivory tower. Ho-hum. The other half is essentially that all men are jerks and thus unreliable. Lesser Goldie Hawn. Pass.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

Thinking that it's a vacation spot, Jewish American Princess joins the Army. Goldie Hawn, whose work never impressed me before, gives an excellent performance, mostly in her silence. Her cold, hurt stare at her father when her parents come to pick her up from boot camp, her dead-pan sex scene - she's great in the in-between moments. The film's femme-power message is good, but most of the story belies believability. Even the dumbest person wouldn't believe the myths about vacation condos in the Army, Private Benjamin's defeat of the opposing squad, the lecherous superior officer, her time in Paris, even the cliche of girls sitting around talking about how they lost their virginity - it's all too trite and too convenient and bespeaks heavy-handed writing. This story doesn't unfold; it jumps. Overall, Hawn's work is remarkable, but the film's flimsy plot leaves much to be desired.

Jim Hunter
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer


Goldie Hawn -- I remember when she was cute. Sadly, cute grimaces don't make up for talent.

Christian C
Christian C

Super Reviewer

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