Pauly Shore's `Army' Tour Wears Thin

------------- MOVIE PREVIEW ------------- X 1/2 "In the Army Now," with Pauly Shore, Lori Petty, David Alan Grier and Andy Dick. Directed by Daniel Petrie Jr. , from a screenplay by Ken Kaufman, Stu Krieger, Daniel Petrie, Jr., Fax Bahr and Adam Small. Aurora, Broadway Market, Everett Mall, Gateway, Grand Cinemas Alderwood, Kirkland Parkplace, Metro, Parkway Plaza. "PG" - Parental guidance suggested; some mature humor. -------------------------------------

After passing the endurance tests of "Encino Man," "Son-In-Law" and now "In the Army Now," it's clear that the worst thing about Pauly Shore's movies is not, surprisingly enough, Pauly Shore. After honing his stuporous, party-on attitude on MTV and in his stand-up comedy routines, Shore has carved his own moderately profitable niche as a lame but likable screen goon.

Shore's comedies are instantly disposable, and "In the Army Now" is certainly no exception. But his persona is so harmlessly good-natured that he can deflect most criticism despite the worthlessness of his movies. All in all, he comes across as a nice guy who has perfected the art of livening any party.

But being an appealing, shallow goof-off can wear thin, and Shore seems incapable of carrying a movie, even when it's a 90-minute knock-off like this., which took five writers to blunder the simple notion of sticking Pauly in the Army.

We've seen this before in "Stripes" and "Private Benjamin." both of which managed to milk well-earned laughs from the same joining-the-Army premise. But By now it's just a tiresome springboard for familiar gags and barely existent plotting, beginning when Pauly and his dweeby best pal (Andy Dick) join the Army reserves to finance their dream of co-owning a stereo store.

Figuring that they'll avoid hardship, they sign up for the water purification division, only to find themselves near the front lines when Libya invades Chad, prompting U.S. forces to engage in a Desert Storm-like operation. Being all that they can be, the buddies get stranded in the desert with a cowardly recruit (David Alan Grier, who fares much better on "In Living Color") and a soldier (Lori Petty) who can be a sexpot or Rambo depending on her feisty mood.

It all leads to the foursome's heroic assault on a Libyan missile camp, which is played out in all its PG-rated glory, with lots of explosions and not a single casualty on either side. Stranger than that is the fact that Pauly Shore - a self-styled hedonist who wouldn't harm a flea - should be starring in a brain-dead comedy that plays like an Army recruiting ad. Pauly can be funny once in a while, but there's something downright weird about seeing him brandish an automatic weapon.