We're all very, very different, but there is one thing that we all have in common: we were all stupid enough to enlist in the Army!
A 1981 movie starring Bill Murray and Harold Ramis. Stripes is a military comedy about a slacker named John Winger (Murray) who convinces his friend Russell Ziskey (Ramis) to join the army. The two of them have a miserable time in basic training, but eventually their drill sergeant gets injured in a training exercise and they have to finish the training on their own. The night before graduation day they stay up all night, show up late for the parade, and put on one hell of a show for the generals. In the end, they are assigned to guard the new EM-50 urban assault vehicle in Italy.While John and Russell are guarding it, they decide to "borrow" it and go for a joyride to Germany. The rest of their squad comes after them, thinking that they're communist spies, but they take a wrong turn and get captured by the Soviets in Czechoslovakia. Winger and Russell come back to save their squad. When they come back to the states, somehow they all end up getting medals.The movie was well-liked by critics, with an 88% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It was also fairly successful financially, grossing $85 million in North America on a $10 million budget.
This movie provides examples of:
Actually Pretty Funny: Sgt. Hulka can't help but let out a few guffaws at Winger's smart-assed "Big Toe" speech before promising to come back at 0500 to put that Big Toe where the sun don't shine.
Butt Monkey: The movie's loaded with them, but special mention has to go to the two Russian guards at the Czech checkpoint. They couldn't buy a break with all the vodka in Russia. Finally, completely fed up, they have this exchange:
Guard One: I hate tourist season!
Guard Two: Such a truck would be good for picking up girls in Minsk...
Casual Car Giveaway: When John and Russell arrive at the Army recruiting center, they park in front of a Morguelan Walsh storefront:
Shopkeeper: Hey, this is a loading zone! You can't park here!
Russell: We're not parking it, we're abandoning it.
Deadpan Snarker: The usual suspects in an Ivan Reitman movie, but Warren Oates' Hulka can stand toe to toe with even Bill Murray's Winger.
Drill Sergeant Nasty: Sergeant Hulka, though, befitting an Ivan Reitman comedy, he's more the dry and sarcastic type then a furiously aggressive type such as R. Lee Ermey. In fact, he's one of the few characters in the entire film who has much in the way of common sense.
Eagle Land: Most of the main characters are distinctly Type 2 (as Winger puts it, America got started because they got kicked out of every decent country), but still trying to be Type 1. Played for Laughs.
Enforced Method Acting: While shooting the boot camp scenes, director Ivan Reitman secretly told the actors as recruits to drag actor Warren Oates (Hulka) into the mud with them. Oates ended up chipping a tooth, and upon learning Reitman manipulated the whole thing, furiously chewed him out. Since then, Reitman has never used enforced method acting in his films.
"Get Out of Jail Free" Card: Even though John and Russell borrowed the EM-50 on their own accord, they get heralded as heroes coming home since they demonstrated its effectiveness against the Soviets.
The Ghost: Sergeant Crocker, training the other platoon in Captain Stillman's company during Basic, is never seen, referred to a number of times, and in the extended cut, is given the blame by Captain Stillman for the mortar mishap that put Hulka in the hospital (the mishap which, of course, was caused by Captain Stillman himself.
I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: Captain Stillman manages to go above and beyond by invoking this trope with a mortar, nearly wiping out Sergeant Hulka's platoon with a blindly fired mortar.
Improperly Placed Firearms: "Soviet" troops carry a motley collection of dressed up MAC-10s, Uzis, and Finnish Valmet assault rifles in lieu of anything that they would normally use— excusable in this case, given that the movie was filmed at the height of the Cold War.
Incoming!: Sgt. Hulka when Capt. Stillman's carelessness on the range results in the platoon coming under fire.
Jerk Ass: Winger. Most of the platoon (initially) hated him for his failed attempts at playing smart with Hulka.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Sgt. Hulka. Sure, he's your average loud and rough army sergeant, but he's willing to go to great lengths to protect his men.
"Join the Army," They Said: It was Winger's idea to enlist, and he talked Ziskey into signing up by promising him that military life was going to be a total blast. As you might reckon, Ziskey gets pissed off later on when he catches Winger trying to go AWOL.
Kentucky Doubling: Pretty much the entire movie was filmed in and around Louisville, with Fort Knox portraying the Army base and a disused Jim Beam distillery playing the Czech Red Army outpost.
Very, very discreetly hinted at in the recruiting scene; the storefront the boys "park" in front of was Morguelan Walsh, a Louisville-based wholesale drug company.
Letting Her Hair Down: Stella and Louise, the two female MPs, remove their helmets and let their hair down shortly before they end up spending the night with John and Russell in the General's house. Note that they hadn't decided on this course of action yet when they let their hair down.
Mildly Military: The whole platoon, with the sole exception of Sergeant Hulka.
Only Sane Man: Hulka. The fact he's the only character played seriously makes his character stand out.
Out-of-Genre Experience: Hulka's heart to heart with John (where he gives John an invitation to take a swing at him, then floors John with a single punch to the gut) is a bit out of place in a slapstick comedy. Ivan Reitman kept the scene in the movie because he felt it was important to establish Sgt Hulka's authority and physical strength over the men (as well as his considerably more old-school approach versus John's wild antics).
Open Says Me: Subverted then hilariously played straight - John and Russell try to rescue their captured unit from a cell by blowing up the locked door with a bomb, which fails. Then John Candy's character Ox (who's inside the cell among the prisoners) decides to run screaming at the door, and smashes it open.
Rousing Speech: Winger gathers up the platoon as they pull an all-nighter to prepare for the graduation marching presentation, and gives them an inverted "The Reason You Suck" Speech.The speech! Cut it out! Cut it out! Cut it out! The hell's the matter with you? Stupid! We're all very different people. We're not Watusi. We're not Spartans. We're Americans, with a capital 'A', huh? You know what that means? Do ya? That means that our forefathers were kicked out of every decent country in the world. We are the wretched refuse. We're the underdog. We're mutts! (feels Bill Paxton's face) Here's proof: his nose is cold! But there's no animal that's more faithful, that's more loyal, more loveable than the mutt. Who saw "Old Yeller?" Who cried when Old Yeller got shot at the end? Nobody cried when Old Yeller got shot, I'm sure. I cried my eyes out. So we're all dogfaces, we're all very, very different, but there is one thing that we all have in common: we were all stupid enough to enlist in the Army. We're mutants. There's something wrong with us, something very, very wrong with us. Something seriously wrong with us - we're soldiers. But we're American soldiers! We've been kicking ass for 200 years! We're 10 and 1! Now we don't have to worry about whether or not we practiced. We don't have to worry about whether Captain Stillman wants to have us hung. All we have to doooo is to be the great American fighting solllldier that is inside each one of us. Now do what I do, and say what I say. And make me proud! Fall in!
Sound Off: A hilarious version, where the platoon uses the song "Doo Wah Diddy" as a jody call.
Star-Making Role: Warren Oates, despite a long career in film prior. He died a year after the film's release, making two films that were released posthumously.
Stating the Simple Solution: When John and Russell "borrow" the EM-50 to meet up with their girlfriends in Germany, Captain Stillman erroneously assumes they're attempting to steal it for the Soviets. Sergeant Hulka suggests that if that's the case, instead of sending a single squad of green troops after them, they should deploy some of the crack soldiers and air recon forces that have been stationed near the border since the start of The Cold War to find it and bring it back. Stillman vehemently declines since he doesn't want his superiors to know the EM-50 went missing on his watch.
Those Two Guys: Stella and Louise have repeated run-ins with Winger and Zisky, often commenting on their antics before eventually joining in later in the film.
Throw It In: Quite a bit of the comic dialogue was improvised by the actors. In particular, the scene where everyone explains why they joined was entirely improvised by the actors.
Unintentional Period Piece: Besides the Cold War setting, John and Russell are asked by an army recruiter whether either of them are homosexual, which points itself to pre-1994, before "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" first allowed LGBT people to serve in the military.
Wacky Wayside Tribe: In the extended cut, John and Russell try to desert during Basic, and somehow end up parachuting into somewhere in South America, before running into a group of rebels, accidentally dumping a bunch of LSD into their stew, almost getting killed, and sneaking off before getting put back on the plane and sent back to Basic.
Weapons Understudies: While in the Czech Red Army outpost, we see a "Russian" tank that is clearly a US built M48/M60 series tank with a few visual mods tacked on.
"Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: Standard for an Ivan Reitman film. Represented by humorous magazine covers: Hulka opens a burger chain, Stella is a Penthouse covergirl, Louise and Russell are interviewed by the fictional magazines Road Life and Guts, Ox becomes a teen heartthrob, and John graces the cover of a news magazine that asks "The New Army: Can America Survive?"
Oh yeah, and a small news blurb about Stillman getting assigned to a snowbound doom.
Yanks with Tanks: Specifically, the aforementioned EM-50 armored recreational vehicle.