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Ivan Reitman
Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, John Candy
Writing Credits:
Len Blum, Daniel Goldberg, Harold Ramis

Two friends who are dissatisfied with their jobs decide to join the army for a bit of fun.

Box Office:
$10 million.
Domestic Gross

Rated R/NR.

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
English Dolby Atmos
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English DTS-HD MA 1.0 (Theatrical)
French Dolby 1.0 (Theatrical)
French DTS-HD MA 5.1 (Extended)
Quebecois French Dolby 1.0 (Theatrical)
German Dolby 1.0 (Theatrical)
German DTS-HD MA 5.1 (Extended)
Italian Dolby 1.0 (Theatrical)
Italian Dolby 2.0 (Extended)
Portuguese Dolby 1.0
Castillian Dolby 1.0 (Theatrical)
Spanish Dolby 1.0 (Theatrical)
Spanish DTS-HD MA 5.1
Chinese Traditional
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 106 min. (Theatrical)
122 min. (Extended)
Price: $164.99
Release Date: 10/12/2021
Available Only As Part of 6-Film “Columbia Classics Collection Volume 2”

• Both Theatrical and Extended Cuts
• Audio Commentary with Director Ivan Reitman and Writer/Producer Dan Goldberg
• “Stars and Stripes” Documentary
• “40 Years of Stripes” Featurettes
• Deleted Scenes
• 1983 TV Version
• Trailer
• Blu-ray Copy


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Sony UBP-X700 4K Ultra HD Dolby Vision Blu-ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Stripes [4K UHD] (1981)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 17, 2022)

Bill Murray played the primary role in 1979’s Meatballs, which became a pretty decent hit. He also participated in 1980’s very popular Caddyshack, though he acted as a supporting character in that ensemble piece.

In 1981, Stripes gave Murray his breakout flick as a lead actor. Though the flick provided Murray ample support from many other talents, it definitely put him at the fore and became his movie to make or break.

Though not as big as later efforts like Ghostbusters, Stripes did quite well and established Murray as one of the most successful Saturday Night Live alumni.

Murray plays John Winger, a cab driver whose girlfriend (Roberta Leighton) leaves him due to his lack of ambition and consistent screw-ups. His buddy Russell Ziskey (Harold Ramis) teaches English as a second language to adults, which is a new job.

Russell also lacks much drive. Down on his luck, John decides he and Russell need a change, so he convinces his pal that they should join the Army.

Off they head to basic training under humorless hardass Sergeant Hulka (Warren Oates). Along the way, they meet sexy MPs Stella (PJ Soles) and Louise (Sean Young), both of whom they’ll later romance.

The guys also get to know squadmates like tubby Ox (John Candy), dimwitted hick Cruiser (John Diehl), stoner Elmo (Judge Reinhold), and intense Psycho (Conrad Dunn). The movie follows their training and initial deployment to Europe, most of which are played strictly for laughs.

I was 14 when Stripes came out and I always loved it as a kid and young adult. Because of that, it becomes tough to objectively critique the flick. So many of my opinions toward it are wrapped in sentiment and nostalgia that it can be difficult to view it on its own.

If I try to do so, I can see how much of Stripes now seems dated. It definitely exists as a product of its era, especially via the anarchic, anti-establishment tone that runs through much of it.

We also see loose, barely-coherent storytelling that often occurred in this sort of comedy back then. Granted, we get plenty of poorly-told flicks nowadays as well, but there’s a certain peculiar looseness to movies such as Stripes, Caddyshack and Meatballs that marks their vintage.

That said, Stripes continues to amuse, as it features more funny lines and quality comedic performances than we have a right to expect. You could take the sum laughs from 10 random modern comedies and not get the total found in Stripes.

Much of the humor comes from the reactions. With Murray, Ramis, Candy and the others, the flick really boasts a terrific cast, and the way they play off each other works wonderfully.

Just look at Candy’s reaction to Psycho’s warning. He makes that throwaway moment hilarious.

While most of the performances stay in the realm of broadly comedic, some actual acting appears during Stripes, mainly via the interactions between Murray and Oates. I’d say that Oates is the only performer who truly “acts” on a consistent basis, as too much of Murray’s work involves loose shtick.

Nonetheless, they have a few surprisingly effective dramatic scenes. No, their confrontation sequence doesn’t pack the power of a similar bit in An Officer and a Gentleman, but it fares quite well for what it is.

As often happens with this sort of movie, pacing causes some problems. The first act plods as we wait for John and Russell to actually join the Army, and the third act seems unnecessary.

In his commentary, director Ivan Reitman indicates that he feels any movie about the military needs to include a war, but I disagree. Heck, the aforementioned Gentleman doesn’t have any battles but still succeeds, and the fighting sequences in Stripes seem pointless.

Stripes would end on an appropriate note if it concluded with graduation from basic training. Anything extra makes the flick wear out its welcome.

Actually, I’ll admit that last statement’s a little extreme, as Stripes still has some funny moments during its third act. I just think the movie would work better if it developed the time during basic training a bit better. The story should have concentrated more on those elements and left out the pointless trek to Europe.

Truncated it may feel, that second act really does shine. Since I’d not seen Stripes for a good six or seven years before I watched this disc, I was disappointed to find myself a little bored during the opening scenes.

However, once Russell and John meet their fellow recruits and head to camp, the movie picks up speed. From that point, it becomes consistently satisfying.

Despite some complaints, I still really like Stripes. It displays a wonderful array of comedic talent who live up to their potential most of the time.

It’s too inconsistent to be on the same level as comedy classics like This Is Spinal Tap or fellow Murray flicks such as Quick Change and Ghostbusters, but Stripes remains a winner.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B+/ Bonus B+

Stripes appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. The nature of the source limited the image’s potential, but it represented the film well.

Sharpness was usually fine. Some softness crept in at times, but most of the movie displayed positive accuracy and clarity, even if it didn’t tend to seem razor sharp.

I noticed no signs of jagged edges or shimmering, and edge haloes failed to appear. Grain seemed heavy, but that was part of the original photography, and at least this meant the image lacked obvious digital noise reduction.

Print flaws weren’t a factor. No specks, marks or other defects arose here.

Colors varied from surprisingly bold to somewhat dull. Again, this reflected the source, and I thought the hues usually seemed positive. HDR gave the instances of brighter tones added oomph and power.

Blacks fairly deep and dense, while shadows worked mostly fine. Some interiors felt a bit thick, but not to a problematic degree.

HDR added impact to whites and contrast, though the often intense grain toned down those advantages. No one will use Stripes as a demo movie, but the 4K made it look as good as I can imagine.

Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, the modern Dolby Atmos remix of Stripes also had some age-related flaws, but it presented a surprisingly involving and vibrant affair. Stripes was originally monaural, which meant I didn’t expect much from the new soundfield. However, it opened up matters quite well.

All speakers presented a lot of audio, and these brought life to both street scenes and those in various military situations. Shells and bullets zipped around the room to good effect and vehicles moved neatly across the spectrum.

Music also showed nice stereo delineation as well as reinforcement from the rear. None of this seemed awkward or artificial, as the soundfield blended well.

Audio quality occasionally showed its age, mostly due to the speech stems. Those could sound stiff and reedy, and they also showed some edginess, particularly during the mud wrestling sequence. Speech was usually fine given its age, however.

On the other hand, both music and effects demonstrated strong definition. The score was bright and dynamic, while the effects seemed crisp and lively. They presented very impressive low-end and made a real impression.

There was little distortion as the track showed solid fidelity. Only the relatively weak speech kept this from “A” territory; otherwise Stripes really impressed.

Note that the 4K also provided the movie’s original DTS-HD MA 1.0 mix but only alongside the 1981 theatrical version. Since the Extended Cut only ever existed as a home video release, it made sense that it didn’t bring the 1981 mono track.

How did the 4K UHD compare to the 2012 Blu-ray? Audio was comparable, as the 4K’s Atmos mix might’ve added a bit of immersiveness but it felt fairly similar to the DTS-HD MA 5.1 track from the Blu-ray.

As for visuals, the 4K UHD better more vivid, better defined and cleaner than its BD predecessor. The original film limited growth but the 4K nonetheless turned into the more satisfying rendition of the film.

The Blu-ray included in this set offers a new disc that only appears here – for the time being, at least, as it seems possible it eventually gets a standalone release. If that happens, I’ll review it, but until/unless that time, it makes no sense to compare the 4K to a Blu-ray no one can buy on its own.

The disc presents both the film’s Theatrical Version (1:46:08) and an Extended Cut (2:02:55). What extra bits fill out the extended edition?

Here are the new scenes, so skip this area if you don’t want to learn about them in advance:

-John talks about his how he thinks the Army will be and convinces Russell to join;

-John tries to get Russell out of camp and they end up on a Special Forces mission;

-Captain Stillman challenges the squad to graduate and says he doesn’t think they’ll do it;

-Sgt. Hulka picks on John and Russell in Italy;

-John and Stella and Russell and Louise get it on in Germany;

-John talks Russell into rescuing their comrades in Czechoslovakia.

The most significant of these is the Special Forces scene, which comes between the dusk shot of the exhausted soldiers and the sight of Captain Stillman as he pervs out to the showering women. This lasts almost nine minutes and takes our heroes all the way to South America.

It’s an odd scene that feels like it comes from a different movie, which is sort of true. It was originally meant for a script written for Cheech and Chong, and it doesn’t connect to Stripes at all.

The others are shorter, but I think all of them were appropriate cuts. We don’t need more of John’s attempts to get Russell into the Army, as the existing scene tells us enough.

Stillman’s scene is also redundant since we get that information elsewhere and don’t need it twice. The same goes for Hulka’s bit. Do we need an explanation for why he gives John crappy jobs after all their antagonism?

The other two pieces are more useful, especially since the party sequence offers plenty of skin from PJ Soles. Still, neither adds much.

As a long-time fan of Stripes, it was fun to get a look at these cut pieces. Nonetheless, I much prefer the tighter theatrical cut.

On the 4K disc, we get the movie’s trailer as well as two featurettes under the banner 40 Years of Stripes: “That’s the Fact, Jack!” (20:30) and “Lighten Up, Francis” (24:18).

In these director Ivan Reitman and actor Bill Murray reminisce about the film via an Internet video chat. Director of photography Bill Butler pops up at the end of “Francis” as well.

Should one expect real revelations here? No, though we get some fun observations, such as that Murray had the presence of mind to suck in his gut for some scenes whereas Harold Ramis let his belly fly.

Mostly “40 Years” becomes fun just because it offers Reitman and Murray together. It feels like a fond chat among old pals and that makes it enjoyable.

The remaining extras all appear on the included Blu-ray copy, and to accompany the extended cut, we get an audio commentary from director Ivan Reitman and co-writer/producer Dan Goldberg. Both men sit together for a running, screen-specific chat.

They mostly focus on story issues, as we learn about the deleted - and now reintegrated scenes - as well as pacing and changes from the original script. We learn the movie was first intended as a Cheech and Chong outing and see the connections to that concept. We also hear about locations, casting, improvisation, working with the military, the score and many specifics related to the shoot.

Though the commentary proves generally satisfying, it doesn’t achieve greatness. Some dead spots occur, and Reitman has an annoying tendency to get the era incorrect, such as when he occasionally refers to shooting the flick in 1982. Nonetheless, I learned a lot about the movie in this mostly entertaining and compelling track.

Presented in two parts, a documentary called Stars and Stripes fills a total of 55 minutes, 43 seconds. It includes interviews with Reitman, Goldberg, actor/co-writer Harold Ramis, and actors Bill Murray, Judge Reinhold, John Larroquette, Sean Young, PJ Soles, and John Diehl.

They discuss the film’s genesis and development as a Cheech and Chong effort, the change from that to a Murray project, the cast, Murray’s impact on the set and the partnership with Ramis, improvisations, Warren Oates’ work and the Hulka/John interaction, John Candy’s work, locations and the involvement of the Army, various combinations of actors and their contrasting styles, and specifics of shooting some scenes.

Given its length, I had high hopes that “Stars” would present a rich look at the film’s creation. Unfortunately, it’s not terribly informative. On one hand, it’s good to hear from some of the actors, as they provide a mix of decent stories about the shoot.

However, “Stars” includes way too many movie clips, and a lot of the content repeats from the commentary. In addition, we hear a fair amount of praise, and Murray’s interview is a big disappointment.

He says very little and only pops up a few times. “Stars” becomes reasonably entertaining at times, but I don’t feel like it tells us a whole lot.

17 Deleted Scenes occupy a total of 29 minutes, 10 seconds. Some of these clips repeat material found in the Extended Cut, though I like that we can see them on their own.

Plenty of the bits debut here. While I can’t claim we locate any lost gold, the added footage proves enjoyable to see.

New to the 2021 Blu-ray, we find a 1983 TV Version of Stripes (1:43:58). As expected, this cropped 1.33:1 presentation offers a version of the film without the original nudity and profanity.

To fill gaps, we get some alternate shots. These don’t offer true deleted scenes, though, so don’t expect anything interesting.

Instead, we get filler like more of Psycho at the pinball machine. The TV version seems like a good addition for archival reasons, but I’ll never watch it again,

One of the strongest comedies from the Eighties, Stripes occasionally shows its age. However, it boasts an excellent cast, strong performances, and a lot of laughs. The 4K UHD offers positive picture and audio along with a few useful supplements. This turns into the best home video version of the movie to date.

Note that as of June 2022, the 4K UHD disc of Stripes can be purchased only as part of a six-movie “Columbia Classics Collection Volume 2”. This set also includes 4K UHD versions of The Social Network, Anatomy of a Murder, Oliver!, Sense and Sensibility and Taxi Driver.

To rate this film, visit the original review of STRIPES