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What It Means to Be an American!?

Updated on January 1, 2018

Stripes! A Comedy Classic

In 1981 I went with a bunch of friends to see one of those movies that you find yourself quoting and laughing about years, even dacades, later. That movie was Stripes, starring Bill Murray and Harold Ramis as a pair of guys who have nothing left to lose. They abandon their car and enlist in the United States Army. The Army changes them, and they change national defense forever, too.

Basic training finds John (Bill Murray) in trouble most of the time, while Russell (Harold Ramis) really tries to be a good soldier. Their platoon is a motley crew of characters from the paranoid Francis ("I'll kill ya") to the overweight Ox (John Candy) and other oddballs of every race and temperament. When their longsuffering Sergeant Hulka is blown up during a training exercise, the guys face failing boot camp and having to repeat it. That's when they pull an all-nighter and put together their "razzle dazzle" drill routine after John gives an inspirational speech about Americans being a bunch of misfits who come together--like their platoon!

They graduate from boot camp, Sergeant Hulka recovers, and they find themselves in West Germany during the Cold War. Their top secret mission is to guard the Urban Assault Vehicle. Although it looks like an ordinary recreational vehicle, it has the capabilities of a tank, missile launcher, and all-around coolest vehicle in Europe. Naturally, John decides to talk Russell into a double date with some beautiful military police--in the Urban Assault Vehicle, of course.

Things go terribly wrong when the inept Captain Stillman orders the platoon to find the missing soldiers and their vehicle. It is up to the Sergeant and the double-dating delinquents to save the day when the platoon accidentally drives into Czechoslovakia and is taken captive by communist soldiers who want to know all their secrets.

This is a fun movie, although its R rating means you will have to skip some raunchy parts if, like me, you only want the comedy action.

"Lighten up, Francis!" ~ Sgt. Hulka

Fun Scenes from the Movie

Pep Talk Followed by Razzle Dazzle Drill Routine

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