The Army comedy genre has never turned out a truly
good movie (if you don't count Neil Simon's BILOXI BLUES).
Year after year, more predictably cliched military movies come
out -- most recently SGT. BILKO -- and none of them ever manage
to be anything more than a rehash of the last. I thought STRIPES
would be different. With Ivan Reitman as director, Bill Murray as
star and Harold Ramis as co-star and co-screenwriter, it seemed
like it would be GHOSTBUSTERS in the Army. Instead, it was a
bunch of unfunny crap in the Army.
Murray, about as funny and sophisticated here as he
was in MEATBALLS, plays a loser cab driver who sees the Army
as his only chance for success, and convinces his friend Ramis to
enlist with him. So he does, and we get the obligatory drill sergeant
from hell, head-shaving and marching/singing sequences, more
mind-numbingly stale here than ever. The characters are even less
original, ranging from underachieving slob John Candy to
incompetent captain John Larroquette.
All the big name stars in STRIPES (and even Larroquette)
fall victim to the lame, rehashed material and are never really
likeable, Murray in particular. He only gets a few decent lines in,
although those barely-funny one liners pale in comparison to the
hilarious Peter Venkman character he played three years later in
GHOSTBUSTERS. He was even better in CADDYSHACK, for
crying out loud.
As with a lot of the late 70's / early 80's comedies, STRIPES
is a completely juvenile movie only a child would like but is so sex-
obsessed no child should be able to watch it. I'm sure it seems funny
on paper to have Candy pay over $400 to mud wrestle five beautiful
women, but while watching it all that was coming out of my mouth
was the admonition "Dear God!" every few seconds.
STRIPES isn't the playful kind of sex comedy, either. Most
of the time it seems downright misogynistic, as when Larroquette
uses his telescope to peer into the women's showers or Murray lifts
a female M.P. onto the stove and, with an I-know-what-you-like
look on his face, says he's going to give her the "Aunt Jemima
treatment," which means shoving a spatula under her butt
repeatedly. You don't want to stick around as the scene
progresses and he uses an ice cream scoop on her genital
region. "I'm not enjoying this," the woman protests. My
Copyright © 1996 Andrew Hicks