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Stripes is firmly planted in my vernacular as one of those films that
helped shape me as a twelve year old boy. It is also one of those films
that made me become the film lover that I am today. I know films like
Star Wars and it's two sequels, First Blood and Rambo, Jaws and it's
sequel, Halloween, Back To The Future, Ghostbusters, Raiders and it's
sequels and Stripes ( there are many others but this review has to be
under 1000 words )taught me the beauty of how a movie can make you
feel. And Stripes was the first movie that me and my best friend at the
time ( Gary ) ever memorized word for word. And I think that it is this
movie that established Murray, Ramis and even guys like Candy and John
Laroquette as comedians. It also has a small role for Bill Paxton in it
somewhere. It was also a great stepping stone for the three amigos (
Murray, RAmis and Reitman ) to get funding for a bigger project like
Ghostbusters. And if you were an executive at Columbia you would
probably hand them a blank cheque for that project after seeing this
film. Simply put this film is a classic in every sense of the word.
Stripes tells the story of how John Winger and Russell Ziskey ( Murray and Ramis respectively ) are two losers in life. Winger is an inept cab driver that hates his job so much that he throws his keys off the city bridge one day while driving an annoying lady to the airport. Ziskey is a terrible English as a second language teacher. And he is so inept that he tries to get is class to sing songs during class as their lesson. " I met her on a Monday and my heart stood still " Ziskey sings, and his class responds " da do da da da da da da da do da da da da, " and the he congratulates them and dismisses them until next week.
After Winger informs Ziskey that in the last three hours he has lost his job, his car, his apartment and his girlfriend, they decide to join the army. And then all hilarity breaks loose. It is here that we meet an assorted cast of hooligans and misfits that add to the enjoyment of the movie.
You have Ox ( Candy ) as an overweight guy who thinks the army is a perfect place to lose weight for free. There is Francis Sawyer, but everyone calls him Psycho, as a nut that thinks he is in Vietnam or someplace. You also have Cruiser, who joined the army because his father and brother were in the army and also because he thought he should join before he got drafted. Then there is Elmo, who is played by a pre-Fast Times Judge Reinhold. He is a wasted jolly stoner who is jjst looking to get stoned. Why he is joining the army is a little perplexing, but really, who cares? He is fun to watch so little details like this are overlooked. And of course we have Sgt. Hulka played with absolute earnestness by the late great Warren Oates. Needless to say, it is an interesting bunch of characters.
The film works for various reason, but mainly because Ramis and Dan Goldberg have written a hilarious script that puts the misfits through one twistedly funny situation after another. If only the army were this fun, everyone would want to enlist.
The first half of the film works because of the basic training scenes. The second half works because the misfit recruits are assigned to protect a secret R.V. that the army has concocted. Winger and Ziskey of course can't stay bored for long and they take the R.V. out for a run to Austria to go pick up their girlfriends.
Stripes is one of the funniest movies ever made and it should be checked out by younger people that were born after 1980. I was about 12 when I saw this and my dad laughed at this just as much as I did. And if all you have to go on for comedy is things like Waterboy and Big Daddy ( very funny movies in their own right ) you are missing some great older comedy. You should really check this out.
May be THE classic Bill Murray movie, with Murray, Ramis, Candy and other oddballs making it in the Army. There are three general sequences - Murray pre-Army, basic training, and the mission (occurring after Murray and Ramis "borrow" Army test vehicle with their MP girlfriends). Each of the sequences are funny, I personally like Murray pre-Army best and the mission least. Warren Oates as "Sgt. Hulka" is a modern classic. Over twenty years later and this is still the reigning service comedy.
He quit his job and lost his girlfriend. before Lost in Translation and
Broken Flowers, he was just a wacky pain-in-the-ass recruit that gave
Sgt. Hulka (Warren Oates) nightmares. When it comes to comedy Bill
Murray is a winner hands down.
Add in John Candy; John Larroquette as the peeping Capt. Stillman; Judge Reinhold; Harold Ramis; the quick peep at Roberta Leighton; and the hot Lois Hamilton and you have a military comedy of errors that will keep you in stitches.
Of course there is a lot of beautiful scenery in this film in the showers and in the mud pit.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Stripes begins as a fine and very funny military service farce with
Bill Murray losing his job, girlfriend, and apartment, all in the same
day. He decides, with his good buddy Harold Ramis, that they should
both join the Army. Some of the funniest parts of Stripes are in the
beginning of the movie with Bill's character trying to do push-ups,
exhausted as he is trying to do as little as 5. Ramis cracks, "I think
your ready for the Special Olympics!" Harold also shines in a bit-part
in teaching English to a class of all foreign students. He finds out
that there are only a few in the class that speak any English at all.
He asked a student who raises his hand, "You speak some English?" The
student answers back "SOB and $hit" and the whole class than repeats
The Basic Training sequences are very funny. Warren Oates shines as a tough drill Sergent, and in addition to SCTV alumni Ramis, John Candy joins the fun as likable, lovable "Ox." There are the typical sex gags, simple jokes, visit to a strip bar, that you would expect in this type of movie and Murray, Candy, Ramis, and Oates keep the comedy fun to watch. However, this is probably due more to the talents of these actors, rather than the storyline, which was done a year earlier with Goldie Hawn in another similar Army movie, Private Benjamin. There is nothing new or original about Stripes. Its best parts are in the first hour.
After the graduation from Basic Training, our likable recruits are assigned to man a top secret vehicle on a special assignment in Europe. Here is where this great comedy falls apart, because at this sequence of the movie, all the good parts have already happened, so the viewer has to spend about 40 minutes watching the group operate the machine, having silly one-lines like, "Wow!!! let's see what this thing can do." rescue some of their group who get temporarily captured in Czechoslovakia, and than arrive home to the predictable hero's welcome. The film goes from funny service farce to a bad Robocop sequel. It's almost as if the European mission sequence was needed, because the producers didn't want to end the film at 90 minutes.
I suppose that it was needed for the recruits to do something with their Army training. The problem is that once the team gets to Europe, the things they do aren't funny anymore and the plot wears thin because of this. The first half of Stripes gets a solid 8, the second half (a generous) 4. Therefore, my overall rating of Stripes is a 6.
Stripes is a raunchy, adult comedy from critically acclaimed
producer/director Ivan Reitman (Evolution, Kindergarten Cop). And it stars
Bill Murray (The Royal Tenenbaums), Harold Ramis (As Good as it Gets), John
Candy (Uncle Buck), Warren Oates (True Grit).
Low life cab driver John Winger (Bill Murray) loses a lot in 2 hours. That is his job, his apartment, his girlfriend, his car. So, he decides that he's had enough of his pathetic life in New York, so he decides to join the army. He also talks his friend Russel Ziskey (Harold Ramis) into joining with him.
When they finally do join, they are both put into a platoon drilled by Sgt. Hulka (Warren Oates) who has his eye on John. They both go through weeks and weeks of hell by doing basic training and putting up with Sgt. Hulka. But, they full fill their goal by meeting Stella (P.J. Soles) and Louise (Sean Young), two beautiful MP's who have their eys on Russel and John.
As the story moves on, they go to battle in Germany and end up in more hilarious confilcts.
I must say, I think that Warren Oates was a perfect choice for Sgt. Hulka, and that he was so brilliant and funny with the character. I give him graditude. 1921-1982
This is not a movie for kids, but teens may enjoy it if they are looking for a hilarious comedy. STRIPES is 100% classic and comedy!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I didn't like this Bill Murray vehicle when it was originally released
in the 80s, so I tried watching it again to see if my distaste for this
film was down to my movie-going tastes in the 80s or was it that
"Stripes" is simply a bad movie. Well, the verdict is in and "Stripes"
is a bad movie.
Now, "Stripes" may have been innovative comedy in the early 80s, and it may appeal to people who have gone through basic training or who are Bill Murray fans, but its still a bad movie.
Why is it bad? Mostly because "Stripes" is supposed to be a comedy but it's just not that funny. There are some laughs, but they are few and far between. Most of the movie is consumed by the dramatic plot which is incredibly convoluted and not very interesting. This lack of comedy is especially noticeable if you're used to more contemporary comedies such as "Anchorman" which strive for laughs in every part of the movie.
"Stripes" further suffers from Bill Murray and Harold Ramis's lack of acting ability. Bill Murray is a great comedian but he was not a very compelling dramatic actor at this point in his career, and Harold Ramis is playing Harold Ramis. These two are just not good enough as actors to carry the dramatic arch of the movie.
Lastly, most of the comedy that there is in "Stripes" revolves around Bill Murray's self-centered, smart-alec man-child character so if you don't find that character funny (like I didn't) you're not going to find most of what little comedy there is in "Stripes" funny either.
"Stripes" is very much a movie of its era, it hasn't aged well and is not worth watching. If you want to watch an early 80's "buddy" comedy I would recommend "Stir Crazy." Like "Stripes" the humor in "Stir Crazy" is not as fast-paced as in contemporary comedies, but unlike "Stripes" it has aged much better and as a result is still watchable.
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
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.
After a terrible day when the taxi driver John Winger (Bill Murray)
loses his job, his car and finally is dumped by his girlfriend Anita
(Roberta Leighton), he convinces his best friend Russell (Harold Ramis)
to join the army to travel and have fun. They team-up with a platoon of
outcast and misfits, and John has problems with their tough Sergeant
Hulka (Warren Oates). John and Russell get into successive troubles,
but they are always rescued by the Military Police Officers Stella
(P.J. Soles) and Louise (Sean Young).
Near the graduation, the clumsy and imbecile Captain Stillman (John Larroquette) provokes an accident and Sergeant Hulka is wounded; however, John uses his leadership and the general is impressed with the platoon and assigns the group to go to Italy with the prototype of an armored car. John and Russell are responsible to take care of the prototype, but they date Stella and Louise. Meanwhile Captain Stillman believes that they have stolen the vehicle and crosses the Iron Curtain with Hulka's platoon and they are captured by the communist. Sergeant Hulka escapes and releases a distress signal and John, Russell, Stella and Louise decide to help to rescue their friends from Czechoslovakia.
"Stripes" is a silly and funny comedy, but what else could I expect from a cast with the names of Bill Murray, John Candy, John Larroquette and the other comedians. The extended cut is long and most of the jokes are "politically incorrect" or sexists, but also hilarious. This is the first time that I see this 1981 comedy on DVD and I laughed a lot. My vote is six.
Title (Brazil): "Recrutas da Pesada" ("Rough Recruiters")
Everyone is funny in this film. Every performance is first-rate and
each character adds something to the humor of this movie.
Stripes begins with Bill Murray losing his job, his car and his girlfriend all in the same day. His buddy Harold Ramis is also leading a lackluster life teaching the English language to foreigners who know only curse words. These depressing circumstances set the stage for Murray to convince Ramis to come with him and join the Army.
Basic training, a hard-ass drill sergeant, female military police and naked mud wrestling consume the rest of this hilarious film. Anyone who appreciates smart-ass humor should see this. However Murray and Ramis are the focal point of most of the humor in Stripes and are very easy to relate to. Also stars John Candy, P.J. Soles, Sean Young, John Larroquette and Judge Reinhold.
This is by far one of Bill Murray's best comedy efforts. John Winger the character played by Murray is the best one liner character I have ever seen. Harold Ramis and John Larroquette bring up the levels of character acting to above par for any comedy lover. John Candy and Warren Oates are also very good in there roles that they played. The visuals, and directing were superb for the time frame the movie was made. A great movie, plenty of action, one liners. The commencement scene is by far on of the best directed and acted scenes in a comedy in a long time. I love the movie and recommend seeing it, some scenes may not be suitable for all ages, the TV version takes away from the classic comedy, get the DVD and enjoy the extras and commentary that are available. A MUST HAVE for any movie fan. Comedy lovers must see this one. GREAT! GREAT! GREAT!
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