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Even though it is nearly twenty years old, STRIPES ($30) remains as raunchy and hilarious today as it was when it was released. Made before the days of political correctness, STRIPES has a just enough crude humor to bunch the panties of members of the "P.C." police. STRIPES stars Bill Murray as John Winger, a cab driver whose future appears to be taking a nosedive to nowhere, until an army recruitment commercial turns his whole life around. If nothing else, John figures that joining the army will help him meet a few girls. Anyhow, since the new army will take just about anyone, John and his best friend Russel Ziskey (Harold Ramis) end up looking like the creme of the crop compared to the misfits they meet in basic training.

Speaking of basic training, it turns out to be a disaster. John’s big mouth continually lands him in hot water with Sergeant Hulka (Warren Oates), STRIPES equivalent of the drill sergeant from hell. When an accident sidelines Sergeant Hulka, John is forced to take charge of the platoon and finish their basic training in a three-hour cram session. John's ingenuity lands his platoon a cushy assignment in Italy. However, John and Russel's decision to borrow the army’s new top-secret urban assault vehicle, so they can take their girlfriends to Germany for the weekend forces them to become real soldiers, when they have to mount a rescue mission behind enemy lines. As I stated above, STRIPES is filled with hilarious moments, thanks pretty much to its gifted cast. Bill Murray and Harold Ramis have amazing chemistry together- take look at GHOSTBUSTERS if you don't believe me. Even without Ramis, Murray is an absolute scream on the screen. The laughter-inducing cast of STRIPES also includes P.J. Soles, Sean Young, John Candy and John Larroquette.

Columbia TriStar Home Video has done a great job brining STRIPES to DVD. Offering both a cropped and a wide screen presentation on opposite sides of the DVD, STRIPES looks better here than I ever thought possible. Even though the cropped presentation looks pretty good, stick with the 16:9 anamorphic enhanced version of STRIPES. The transfer is very sharp and well defined and the colors are surprisingly vivid for a film from this period. Flesh tones are very impressive; in fact, I would venture to guess that the colors on this DVD are superior to the film’s original theatrical prints. While the blacks are deep and the image has very good contrast, shadow detail on the disc falls a little short of what one might find in a new movie shot on more sensitive film stocks. Digital compression artifacts never made their presence known on this well authored DVD.

The Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack is clean sounding, with precise dialogue reproduction. A French language soundtrack has been encoded onto the DVD, along with English and French subtitles. The basic (but nicely designed) interactive menus provide access to the standard scene and language selection features, as well as three Bill Murray themed theatrical trailers.

If you are a Bill Murray fan, STRIPES is a DVD you will want to add to you collection. That’s the fact, Jack!




DVD reviews are Copyright 1999 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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