Thanks to a run of bad luck and go-nowhere jobs, John convinces Russell to join the army so they can get in shape, likening it to a health spa. Once in boot camp, wiseguy John tangles with his by-the-book Sgt. and becomes the unofficial leader for his platoon, made up mostly of other misfits and assorted losers. After somehow making it through graduation, they are given a special assignment but, thanks to John's romantic interest in a pretty MPO, the other men wind up behind the Iron Curtain until John, Russell, their dates and Sgt. Hulka make a daring rescue attempt in explosive style. Written by
Despite the fact that there is no way on God's green earth or this country's army that such a set of circumstances could ever happen, that's still no reason not to enjoy Stripes. The film is in a long line of service comedies that date all the way back to Charlie Chaplin's Shoulder Arms and further than that. Even Shakespeare found some humor in army life, just read how Falstaff made do in the service of his king.
Of course Falstaff wasn't a drill sergeant like Warren Oates who had a platoon of underachievers with the likes of Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, and John Candy as recruits. As is usual the service comedies make a mistake in that the basic training company stays intact with the same sergeant. In real life Oates would have taken a drink when the eight weeks was done and gone on to some fresh young trainees.
But some brain in the Pentagon decides that what a new type urban assault vehicle needs is some fresh recruits to maintain it, reasoning if the vehicle is worthy it can stand up to goofballs. The vehicle looks like your ordinary average camper, in fact Murray and Ramis while they're guarding it decide it would be a great chick magnet. So they pick up a pair of female MPs in P.J. Soles and Sean Young.
The officer in charge is John Larroquette who isn't much better than the recruits he has and when the vehicle turns up missing, he sounds the general alarm worthy of the Captain in Mister Roberts. He leads the whole troop after Murray and Ramis right into at that time Communist Czechoslovakia and some nasty Russians. Good thing they didn't have their A team playing either.
Stripes is your typical armed service comedy with a nice Eighties twist from Bill Murray and a crew from Saturday Night Live just coming into their prime as players. John Larroquette is the best in the film, imagine ADA Dan Fielding in an army uniform and you got Larroquette's character. You notice the New York County DA's office never gives Fielding any really big cases to handle.
And yes that vehicle can withstand anything and it has more tricks than James Bond's Astin-Martin. To see what and how much, you have to watch Stripes.
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