Picks and Pans Review: Stripes

updated 07/27/1981 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/27/1981 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Saturday Night Live alum Bill Murray stars in this film about Army basic training, and it features Second City TV veterans John Candy and Harold Ramis. Director Ivan Reitman co-produced Animal House. Do not, however, expect a devastating satire on the military; this film is so innocuous that the Defense Department let Reitman use Fort Knox, Ky. to make it. There's no point of view, and the characters—a snarly drill sergeant, an inept captain, unbelievably gorgeous WACs—come out of the screenwriter's instant plot kit. Stripes is like the bumbling-but-lovable-recruit comedies done before, and much better, by Abbott and Costello, Martin and Lewis, and Robert Walker in the old Private Hargrove series. Murray is great in small doses, but as the film wears on he seems more sour and insecure than funny. Candy, as an earnest lummox, and Ramis, who has a nice way with a throwaway line, fare better. Reitman, though, wastes opportunities. In one, Murray whips his platoon into shape for a parade—a nice twist, yet the parade is carried off halfheartedly. It all makes you want to say, "Hey, Billy, you big grunt, we love you, but get out of here." (R)

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