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, ...Written by
The cast improvised virtually all of the dialogue where they sit around and tell their back stories. This includes Bill Murray's lines about "Lee Harvey" making out with a cow, and calling Sgt. Hulka a "big toe". See more »
Prior to the first run, Sergeant Hulka tells the men that the run will be 10 miles rain or shine. The next morning Hulka tells the men the run will be 5 miles. See more »
I've had an interesting morning. In the last two hours I've lost my job, my apartment, my car, and my girlfriend.
You still have your health.
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Four actors with the first name "John", are listed back -to-back in the final credits: John Candy, John Larroquette, John Voldstad and John Diehl. See more »
The "Extended Cut" DVD includes 18 minutes worth of deleted scenes re-edited back into the film. They include:
A longer discussion between John and Russell before they drive to the recruiting office
A nine-minute scene in which John and Russell take LSD and accidentally end up on a mission in the Colombian jungle. They meet with rebels whom they smoke marijuana and take more LSD with. The rebels want to kill them but they escape by leading the rebels in a rendition of "Quando, Quando, Quando"
After Hulka's injury, Stillman gives the men a false account of how it happened. But John knows that Stillman was at fault
Love scenes between the two couples during their Germany vacation in which the women are nude
A longer discussion between John and Russell before Russell agrees to save the men in Czechoslovakia
STRIPES is a film that I wanted to like a great deal, given that it's an 1980s comedy (one of my favourite eras) with a fantastic cast who among them have appeared in some of the funniest films made in Hollywood. And yet it left me disappointed; it's not poor, exactly, just lacklustre in comparison to other '80s comedy hits like CADDYSHACK, GHOSTBUSTERS or the later PLANES, TRAINS & AUTOMOBILES.
The problem with the film is twofold; there's a scattershot approach to the narrative which means that it drags in various places (particularly in the last third, which descends into meaningless action out of place with the earlier comedy), and in addition the script just isn't that funny. It's just going through the same kind of jokes as in CARRY ON SERGEANT, made some 34 years previously, with some added T&A to spice things up.
The best thing about the production is unsurprisingly the cast, headed by an on-form Bill Murray. Harold Ramis is predictably decent, and there's a nice role for John Candy before he adopted the lovable goof character of later years. PJ Soles and Sean Young are here too, but I found their characters annoying, getting in the way of the army situation. Warren Oates looks a bit battered but it's still good to see him in one of his final roles.
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