Private Benjamin is refreshing and fun. Goldie Hawn, who is a true comic actress, makes an original, appealing character out of Judy Benjamin, and so the movie feels alive, not just an exercise in gags and situations.
The script goes from one formula to the next, and it reworks the pranks of generations of male service comedies, but the director, Howard Zieff, refurbishes the stale material with smart small touches, and Goldie Hawn has such infectious frothy charm that she manages to get laughs out of ancient routines about a tenderfoot going through the rigors of basic training.
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. [10 Oct 1980, p.C6]
This is arguably although unfortunately Goldie Hawn's most memorable role. For while she embodies the character perfectly and when the jokes are funny they are hilarious, sadly there just isn't enough to keep the film going and it begins to run out of steam half way through, with an attempt at a deeper meaning ruining the film.
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.