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 it.
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.
Action / Comedy / War
Action / Comedy / War
At the end of a very bad day when he realizes his life has gone and is going nowhere, John Winger is able to convince his best friend, Russell Ziskey, whose life is not much better, to enlist in the army, despite they not being obvious soldier material. In basic training, they are only two of a bunch of misfits that comprise their platoon. However, it is still John that is constantly butting heads with their drill sergeant, Sergeant Hulka. Two of their saving graces are Stella and Louise, two MPs who get them out of one scrape after another. Their entire platoon is in jeopardy of not graduating. But what happens during basic leads to their entire platoon being assigned to an overseas mission in Italy, to test a new urban assault vehicle, the EM-50 project. John and Russell decide to take the EM-50 for an unauthorized test drive to visit Stella and Louise who have been reassigned to West Germany. In the process, the rest of the platoon, Hulka, and Hulka's immediate superior, ...
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