This is Stripes as you've never seen it before, with 16 minutes of previously-deleted scenes added in, to bring its running time to 118 minutes.
It's been a long time since I saw Stripes, and it's impossible to recall just what was in before, and what was not. The deleted scenes have been added back seamlessly.
The movie doesn't seem padded as a result, though there's a lot more incidental nudity than I remembered before, as our heroes Bill Murray and Harold Ramis get to grips with life in the modern Army, including with its very photogenic members of the Military Police, Sean Young and P.J. Soles.
Bill Murray is John Winger, one of life's born losers. He's lost his girlfriend, his job, and his apartment. So he tells his best buddy Russell Ziskis (Harold Ramis) that he's joining the Army. Correction: We're joining the Army.
This is a pretty warm, user-friendly comedy which does tend to drift towards the end, relying in its closing reels on artificial contrivance rather than the earlier comic observations and interractions between cast members.
But forget the contrived closing. Focus instead on the great cast of then-unknowns assembled by Ivan Reitman and producer Dan Goldberg. Bill Murray at this stage had appeared only in the little-seen minor Canadian comedy Meatballs'. He'd made Caddyshack, but that was still in the can while this one was being made. So this is fledgling Murray, straight from Saturday Night Live, with his killer comedy talent on full display.
Add writer/director Harold Ramis in an on-screen role as Bill's best buddy, throw in John Candy's film debut, and the debut of the very funny Judge Reinhold as the naive and drug-fucked Private Elmo, and this is classic early stuff indeed. Season that cast with the professionalism of old-timer Warren Oates as the Drill Sergeant, and John Larroquette as their blissfully stupid Officer, Captain Stillman, and we have near-perfection casting.
But wait, there's more. No, it's not a dozen steak-knives; it's Sean Young and P.J. Soles as the very personable companions for our Army buddies John and Russell. Now, that's perfection.
The combination of Murray and Ramis is wonderful to see. Ramis, a droll actor in his own right, is the perfect foil for Murray, and there's a very real affection underlying their screen personas. Nice to know that a decade later, Ramis would direct what is still probably Murray's finest movie outing, the blissful Groundhog Day.
This isn't a classic, but it has some comic riches and wonderful interplay between characters. It falls just short ... but it does feature Bill Murray, so it just has to be seen.
This is a very decent, though not outstanding, anamorphic presentation. The print source shows its age in slightly muted colours and tonings, but there's very little in the way of obvious wear or damage. It's respectable, though falling short of the highest standards the DVD medium has taught us to expect.
Impressive though is the way the previously-deleted scenes have been reintroduced into the movie. There seems no obvious change in quality of film-stock between scenes; the fusion of new and old ingredients is impeccable.