YMMV / Heartbreak Ridge

  • Jerk Sue: Gunny Highway, like many other characters Eastwood has played. He is, of course, justified and just doing his job by being tough on his Marines, as is later shown when they're in Grenada. However, he comes across as extremely hypocritical when berates his troops for "not acting like Marines" and, yet, what is he doing? Mouthing off to his superior officer and not showing him any respect. Off duty he's getting drunk, getting into bar fights, and getting arrested. A member of the Armed Forces, especially a senior NCO, should be holding himself to a much higher standard and not be engaging in such disorderly conduct. Then the movie actually portrays Major Powers as a jerk for getting angry at Highway and wanting to punish him when he does these things, and it's then shown as justified because Powers proves to be a poor leader in Grenada. He even calls Powers a prick after one of Highway's Marines accidentally fires at him on the shooting range and punishes him by making him run in circles around the platoon as they march back from the range, which is extremely light by real life military standards.
    • In fact, real members of the US military took issue with the film. Originally Highway was a soldier in the US Army, but they refused to provide any type of backing for it, believing it portrayed them as too stereotypical. Even after Highway was changed to a Marine, real Marines also took issue with how they were portrayed.
      • That is to say, the Public Affairs Office hates the movie. Army and Marine infantrymen generally like it.
    • To be fair, Highway is respectful to every superior who earns it, and is also respectful to the Judge. His antagonistic relationship with Major Powers is instigated by Powers himself, and Powers is clearly a poor leader. As for Lieutenant Ring, Highway is subtly teaching him to be a good infantry officer, and is visibly pleased when Ring steps up.
  • Highway does have respect for the Colonel and his friend the Sergeant Major, since they are both combat proven. Powers, on the other hand was a "big football star" at the Naval Academy and hasn't had the "privilege of combat" yet. As for Lieutenant Ring, Highway eventually respects him since he realizes that Ring is a new officer and does need to be taught how the military works.