Sunday, January 15, 2017


Sometimes I wonder what was the very first movie I remember watching? I don't think I'll ever remember, but it was probably something Disney. I do however remember my first R rated movie! It was the 1981 comedy classic STRIPES! I had to have be at least five years old, and it was either on HBO or my my dad rented it on VHS. The exact timeline is going to be hazey, but one thing was for sure and that was Bill Murray was a staple in the Cox household.

Besides STAR WARS and THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK I loved comedies as a kid. The big three for me were CADDYSHACK, NATIONAL LAMPOON'S VACATION, and of course STRIPES. if you couldn't tell, SNL was a family favorite!

Like I was saying, I remember my first R rated movie. I think my dad's logic was that a five year old wouldn't remember the bad language or nudity. If it ever got really bad I always just had to cover my eyes. But being the good parents my mom and dad were, it was once in a blue moon that I ever got to watch STRIPES. I remember now, it was taped off of HBO.

I think my dad was a huge Bill Murray fan because of the comedians anarchist approach, like with all the SNL alum. And he was also a fan probably because of Murray's rising popularity!

If I was forced to make a list right now of my all time favorite comedies, STRIPES would probably be number one on that list. I know it's my second most watched Bill Murray comedy. The most watched obviously being GHOSTBUSTERS. There was another Bill Murray comedy that I wore out the VHS tape watching, and that was MEATBALLS. Now, I love MEATBALLS but it is no where near good as STRIPES. I bring this up to point out the fact that I think it's the writing that makes the difference.

Both MEATBALLS and STRIPES were directed by Ivan Reitman. Bill and Ivan had something good going with MEATBALLS but whatever they did next had to be better. Enter Harold Ramis, a talented writer who helped make STRIPES the classic it still is today. And just a few years later this talented group along with Dan Aykroyd made GHOSTBUSTERS. Amazing!

For those who don't know, STRIPES is a slob of a movie about two down and outers, Tripp and Rusty, who join the Army just for the hell of it. It is this first half of the film that is the strongest and funniest. During basic training Tripp (Murray) gives Sargent Hulka hell. I still love the montage of basic training duties where Tripp is always slacking off resulting in him doing push-ups.

But my absolute favorite is still the impromptu marching formation the platoon performed at graduation.

It's still funny but once basic training is over the film's second half isn't as strong. Tripp and Rusty take two lovely MP officers for a joy ride to the Swiss Alps in a new state of the art Army secret weapon vehicle disguised as an RV. Come to find out the rest of their platoon is held hostage behind the Iron Curtain. It's a crazy climax in vein of ANIMAL HOUSE and BLUES BROTHERS. What was the deal with crazy endings to comedies in the late Seventies and early Eighties?

In conclusion, I still think STRIPES holds up well for a Bill Murray comedy. If you're a fan but haven't seen this one, I highly recommend you give it a watch.

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