One of the tried and true comedy movie formulas of the 70s and 80s was to put a funny cast of goofballs and screw ups in a serious or snobby institution and let them tear everything apart. Movies like Animal House, Caddyshack, Police Academy, and Stripes all used this anti-establishment snobs vs. slobs plot and even though it’s been a million times, I usually like it. I like seeing serious things brought down by a little bit of anarchy.
I think I might have seen Stripes at some point on Comedy Central, but I really didn’t remember anything about it. I must not have been paying much attention, because this is a really funny movie with a great cast. This movie is built around great lines and a big chunk of it was improvised by the actors. And this movie had some great comedians including Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, John Candy, John Larroquette, Judge Reinhold, Joe Flaherty, and Dave Thomas. If you don’t know who some of those guys are, check out old episodes of SCTV and SNL.
This was one of Harold Ramis’ first big onscreen roles and I think he does a great job. Of course Bill Murray gets the best lines because he’s Bill Murray.
One sentence plot summary:
In just a few hours a down-on-his-luck taxi driver loses his job, his apartment, his car, and his girlfriend so he and his friend decide to join the army and hijinks ensue.
It is worth watching?
Absolutely. Bill Murray and Harold Ramis were some of the best comedians of the 70s and 80s both on screen and on script and they’re both at the top of their game here.
- Da doo ron ron
- Bill Murray’s inspirational speech to the troops
- Graduation drill
- The big reveal of the super secret EM-50 urban assault
- “And then depression set in.”
- “No, we’re not homosexual, but we are willing to learn.”
- “What happens if I refuse to get on the bus?”
“You look like a sensitive intelligent guy. Don’t make me shoot you.”
- “I don’t know what kind of soldier I’m gonna make, but I want you guys to know that if we ever get into really heavy combat… I’ll be right behind you guys. Every step of the way.”
- “There is one thing that we all have in common. We were all stupid enough to enlist in the army.”
- “Where is your drill sergeant, men?”
“Blown up, sir!”
Continuing with the Harold Ramis love, next up is Ghostbusters II.