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The U.S. military gets a mischievous kick in the backside in this early star vehicle for Bill Murray, who plays John Winger, a lazy, dead-end cabbie, who, upon losing his job, sees his girlfriend walk out the door. "You're going nowhere, John," she says. "It just isn't that cute anymore." John convinces his best friend Russell (Harold Ramis) to accompany him in joining the Army. While in boot camp, Winger's sarcastic antics earn him the enmity of his authorities, but also charms sexy MP Stella (P.J. Soles) into bed. With their platoon sergeant out injured, Winger assumes leadership of the rag-tag group (apparently the Army was going to leave them to their own resources), and his irreverent style so impresses an influential General that they're assigned to a top secret project in Italy. Barely a day into their new detail, Winger's antics threaten to start World War III when his platoon wander into Soviet territory looking for him. Of course, he rescues them, and becomes America's most irresponsible hero. Stripes is an odd film. It's a comedy that is amusing without ever being funny, and its war-like climax is nothing more than a cavalier jaunt for Murray, Ramis, and their fetching MP girlfriends. Of course you don't watch a movie like Stripes for its realism — Murray and Ramis are the only two members of the platoon who get their hair trimmed instead of shaved. Murray is fun to watch, but the Army is given such dubious treatment as the shill to his deadpan mockery that it feels unfair to laugh, and all the minor characters are simply there to bend to his will. Whatever laughs Stripes does manage can't overcome its ultimately fascist point-of-view. Directed by Ivan Reitman; also features John Candy, Sean Young, and John Larroquette. Good tranfser, 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen or pan-and-scan, two-channel mono soundtrack, trailer, textual supplements, keep-case.
—Gregory P. Dorr

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