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Stripes 1981
Description: John Winger, an indolent sad sack in his 30s, impulsively joins the U.S. Units after losing his job, his girlfriend and his apartment.
Released: 26 Jun 1981 Director: Ivan Reitman Writers: Len Blum, Daniel Goldberg, Harold Ramis Actors: Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, Warren Oates, P.J. Soles Genres: Comedy, War
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See Stripes (1981) Trailer on youtube.

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Stripes Reviews:

Stripes starts 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 nice buddy Harold Ramis, that they could both join the Army. Some of the funniest parts of Stripes are in the beginning of the film with Bill's hero trying to do push-ups, exhausted as he is trying to do as tiny as 5. Ramis cracks, "I think your ready for the Unique 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 several 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 entire class than repeats it.The Primary 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, easy jokes, visit to a strip bar, that you would expect in this kind of film and Murray, Candy, Ramis, and Oates hold 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 other related Units movie, Personal Benjamin. There is nothing fresh or original about Stripes. Its greatest parts are in the first hour.After the graduation from Primary Training, our likable recruits are assigned to boy a top secret car on a unique assignment in Europe. Here is where this nice comedy falls apart, because at this sequence of the movie, all the nice parts have already happened, so the viewer has to spend about 40 mins 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 receive temporarily captured in Czechoslovakia, and than arrive home to the predictable hero's welcome. The movie goes from funny service farce to a terrible Robocop sequel. It's almost as if the European point sequence was needed, because the producers didn't wish to end the movie at 90 minutes.I suppose that it was required for the recruits to do something with their Units training. The trouble is that once the squad 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.


May be THE classic Bill Murray movie, with Murray, Ramis, Candy and another oddballs making it in the Army. There are three general sequences - Murray pre-Army, primary training, and the point (occurring after Murray and Ramis "borrow" Units use car with their MP girlfriends). Every of the sequences are funny, I personally like Murray pre-Army greatest and the point least. Warren Oates as "Sgt. Hulka" is a modern classic. Over twenty years soon and this is still the reigning service comedy.


Stripes is firmly planted in my vernacular as one of those movies that helped shape me as a twelve year old boy. It is also one of those movies that made me become the movie lover that I am today. I know movies like Star Fights 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 film can create you feel. And Stripes was the first film that me and my greatest mate at the time ( Gary ) ever memorized word for word. And I think that it is this film that established Murray, Ramis and even guys like Candy and John Laroquette as comedians. It also has a tiny role for Bill Paxton in it somewhere. It was also a nice stepping stone for the three amigos ( Murray, RAmis and Reitman ) to receive 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 place this movie is a classic in each sense of the word.Stripes says the storyline 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 town bridge one day while driving an annoying lady to the airport. Ziskey is a poor English as a second language teacher. And he is so inept that he tries to receive 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 units is a excellent zone 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 units because his father and brother were in the units and also because he thought he could 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 receive stoned. Why he is joining the units is a tiny perplexing, but really, who cares? He is fun to watch so tiny features like this are overlooked. And of course we have Sgt. Hulka played with absolute earnestness by the late nice Warren Oates. Needless to say, it is an interesting bunch of characters.The movie works for different reason, but mainly because Ramis and Dan Goldberg have written a hilarious script that puts the misfits through one twistedly funny case after another. If only the units were this fun, everyone would wish to enlist.The first half of the movie works because of the primary training scenes. The second half works because the misfit recruits are assigned to protect a secret R.V. that the units 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 films ever made and it could be checked out by younger folks 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 Large Daddy ( very funny films in their own right ) you are missing some nice older comedy. You could really check this out.



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