Stripes (1981)

Stripes (1981)

“Okay, hotshot — we’re gonna see what kind of soldier you are.”

A cabbie (Bill Murray) and his buddy Russell (Harold Ramis) join the military and go through basic training under the command of Sergeant Hulka (Warren Oates). In the meantime, they have adventures with beautiful MPs Sean Young and PJ Soles, and get sent on a special mission to Europe.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Bill Murray Films
  • Comedy
  • Dennis Quaid Films
  • Military
  • Misfits
  • Warren Oates Films

Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary notes, this wildly popular Bill Murray vehicle — directed by Ivan Reitman, and following on the box-office success of Meatballs (1979) — is ultimately “just a standard service comedy,” and would probably have made for a much more interesting story if it focused on Murray’s adventures as a cabbie in New York. There are other, better movies about misfits enduring basic training together, and this one brings nothing new or unusual to the genre. Plus, as much as I like and admire Warren Oates, his performance here can’t hold a candle to R. Lee Ermey’s in Full Metal Jacket (1987).

Redeeming Qualities:

  • John Candy mud-wrestling in a strip bar
  • Young and Soles, who bring a breath of fresh air to this otherwise stale movie
  • The improvised “kitchen utensil” scene between Murray and Soles

Must See?
No; while it has a strong cult following, this one isn’t must-see by all film fanatics.


2 thoughts on “Stripes (1981)

  1. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    I first saw this on it’s initial cinema release in the 105 minute theatrical cut and loved it; had me laughing in the isles. I don’t think it’s completely fair to compare Oates’ character here to the much more seriously written role played by Ermy in Full Metal Jacket (1987); different approaches to similar material but the aims kf each film are drastically different.

    I actually felt the 123 minute extended veraion restored some very good material and is an improvement; notably the R&R furlough taken by Murray and Ramis in South American jungle.

  2. First viewing. Not must-see. This is strictly for Bill Murray fans who love him when he’s at his Bill Murray-est.

    …Not that I’m anti-Murray. I can even sometimes handle him at his Murray-est if the script is still good (i.e., ‘Tootsie’). But I much prefer him when he’s not off-the-cuff, as he is here.

    ‘Stripes’ is very mildly amusing stuff aimed at audiences who are easily pleased. It’s a very light popcorn flick.

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