There is one thing we all have in common: we were all stupid enough to enlist in the army.
Well, it’s time for another installment of “the comedies you have always loved actually suck.” Last time was Coming to America; now it’s Stripes, an early Bill Murray film that I had somehow never gotten around to seeing. If you haven’t, don’t bother; it’s absolutely dreadful. So, Bill Murray and Harold Ramis join the army. I mean, that’s about it really. The film is just lackluster, totally without energy and it just keeps getting stupider as it goes on. Basically the entire cast is pretty terrible; even John Candy only gets like one laugh and Murray might get a couple. Easily the best thing about the movie is Harold Ramis who is obviously having a blast; his energy, charm and exuberance really come across and he’s about the only thing here that actually put a smile on my face. Most of the time, the film’s humor just comes across as stupid and not funny, but when the film really wants to go for it, it buckles down and gets ugly and misogynistic. There’s a lengthy section in a strip-club/topless bar/mud-wrestling establishment (I . . . think that’s everything it was) that’s just interminable. How long do you think you can watch John Candy fall in the mud before it stops being funny? Hint: it’s under five seconds. And the topless women in this scene are just . . . I’m sorry, I know it’s part of the whole eighties thing and I’m not opposed on general principle (there’s a great gag in Airplane, which I recently reviewed, with a topless woman and it’s very funny), but this is just deeply misogynist. And this sequence seems to go on and on and on. And then there’s the climax where a rescue mission has to be staged and suddenly the movie wants to be taken at least halfway seriously as we see a couple of soldiers being tortured in surprisingly rough fashion. And then, of course, the big battle just goes on forever in that typical eighties comedy climax fashion – but you got those machine guns, mightaswelluse’emamirite? I really wouldn’t have believed I could dislike a Bill Murray movie this month (even St. Vincent wasn’t this bad), though, well, Rock the Kasbah anyone? Yeah, me neither. Still, I have to tell you that at this moment, this is the worst movie I’ve seen all year. What a disaster. ½ star.
tl;dr – comedy “classic” is painfully unfunny, poorly acted, sloppily scripted, unbearably belabored and, just for grins, deeply misogynist; oh, Bill, I wouldn’t have believed it. ½ star.