Review: Catch-22

I’m having a hard time writing this review, as I think I’m in the minority who simply didn’t get what the hype is all about?

Catch-22 is a 1970s war satirical comedy, created by the director behind The Graduate and based off the book by the same name. It follows a soldier who wishes to be declared insane so he can leave the military and escape the unjust chain of command, but the “catch” to this is that you have to be insane to fly into battle. To leave you must be insane, but to be insane you have to fight.

The film is a lot more than this however. Captain Yossarian is plagued by memories of a young officer killed in action, while everyone else around him seem utterly crazy themselves; from selling everyone’s parachutes, to having men sliced in half, or even impersonating dead men.
I get satire, I really like Black Adder Goes Forth for example, but I was not expecting Catch-22‘s backwards, upside down, totally non-linear story structure. It disconnected me from the characters, and from most of the humour; I had no idea what was meant to be funny half the time, I think the first time I laughed was forty minutes in with Orson Welles character arriving on the scene!

I will say though, seeing real live World War Two machinery and aircraft taking off and flying was pretty amazing, and I won’t say I didn’t find several parts goofily funny. I certainly “got” the messages being thrown at me, but I simply couldn’t engage with the choppy narrative structure. I’ve not read the book… I hear it is similarly “crazy”.

Perhaps one should read the book first, or watch the film twice!


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