Stripes: Extended Cut US Theatrical Release: None (Original cut: June 26, 1981) (Columbia Pictures) US DVD Release: June 7, 2005 Running Time: 2:02:48 (28 chapter stops) Rating: R (Sexuality/ Nudity, Language and Some Drug Use) Video: 1.85:1 Anamorphic (Extra Features: 4:3 non-anamorphic) Audio: English DD5.1 (Extra Features: English DD2.0) Subtitles: English, French (Extra Features: None) TV-Generated Closed Captions: English Menus: Brief (skippable) animated transitions plus some background animation Packaging: Standard keepcase with cardboard slipcover; single-sheet insert has cover images for other titles on one side and a cut & fold EM-50 RV Super-Weapon on the other. MSRP: $19.94 THE WAY I FEEL ABOUT IT: 3.5/5 An iconic comedy of the early 80s gets a second DVD release, sporting a new 5.1 mix and 18 minutes of previously deleted scenes, in Stripes: Extended Cut. Many people counted the original film among their favorites of the era, and it catapulted Bill Murray from TV popularity to movie stardom. (Of course, it's a long way from John Winger to Steve Zissou!) One could say that Stripes is quite dated, which is both a good and a bad thing. All told, the film has held up pretty well, and the "new" material is funny, if not brilliant. It's got an element of nostalgia too. On the other hand, this is state-of-the-art 1981 humor, originally written as a Cheech & Chong vehicle. Take that for what it's worth. John Winger (Bill Murray) and Russell Ziskey (Harold Ramis) are two ne'er-do-wells whose random wanderings eventually lead them into the US Army and basic training. Of course, they clash immediately with their tough-as-nails drill sergeant, the appropriately named Sgt. Hulka (Warren Oates). Hulka certainly has his work cut out for him, as the unit is filled with eccentric characters for whom discipline is a foreign concept (including John Candy, Judge Reinhold, and John Diehl in early roles). He also has to put up with his goofy and immature commander, Captain Stillman (John Larroquette). Fortunately for John and Russell, who can't seem to stay out of trouble, the base is patrolled by a pair of softies -- Stella Hansen (P. J. Soles) and Louise Cooper (Sean Young, in her major film debut). These two young MPs can't help but be charmed by the lovably irreverent recruits, and manage to keep them out of the stockade. As an added bonus, the guys get a chance to temper their otherwise harsh training regimen with a little nookie. The comedy in Stripes runs the gamut from simple gratuitous nudity and physical slapstick to witty innuendo ("Have you ever had the Aunt Jemima Treatment?" and fairly inspired one-liners ("We're not homosexual -- but we're willing to learn!"). Nothing here is going to tax anyone's brain -- it's just good solid silliness. Those seeking wit at a more intellectual level should look elsewhere. There are a few dramatic moments too, mainly involving Winger and Sgt. Hulka. Rather than feeling like the humor is being sidetracked, as with many other comedies that get caught up in trying to resolve a meaningless plot, these scenes serve to ground the characters and give them a bit of heart. They bring the film a touch of depth while being brief enough to not drag the pace down. Unfortunately, Stripes does go a bit astray in the third act. A la Full Metal Jacket and many other true war films, the action moves from the training base to an actual military incident -- in this case involving an armored, rocket-armed recreational vehicle(!) that travels between Italy, Germany, and Czechoslovakia as though they were LA, Anaheim, and Burbank. There are still laughs to be had during these sequences, but the low-rent action scenes don't really add much to the overall experience. And considering the 2 hour-plus running time of the new cut, a shorter film that simply had a different ending set up at the training base wouldn't have been out of the question. The disc provides the option of watching either the original or the extended cut of the film. However, there is a minor irritation either way. When viewing the extended cut, a small subtitle (i.e., "Bonus Scene Begins/ Ends" briefly appears at the beginning and end of each restored scene. This cannot be turned off. In addition, on some players (check the later posts in this thread for details), the regular subtitles will automatically turn on each time one of these scene markers appears. When viewing the original cut, there is a momentary pause, similar to a layer change, at each transition where one of the deleted scenes appears in the extended version. So which version to watch? The extended material is, for the most part, on par with the rest of the movie, so it's worth checking out. (On the other hand, some of it is a bit too "extended,"such as an 8-minute sequence of the guys parachuting into an unnamed Latin American jungle.) The "Bonus Scene" subtitles are distracting, but they're not that bad, and those who watch the film with the subtitles or closed captions on will hardly notice them. THE WAY I SEE IT: 2.5/5 The image is passable, but it isn't going to win any awards. Detail is fairly soft for the most part. There's noticeable edge enhancement and digital noise, but not enough to be awful. On the other hand, colors are rich and realistic. Blacks are pretty good, although there is room for improvement. Occasional specks and scratches from the source print are visible. The overall picture quality is a bit inconsistent -- some scenes look much better than others, which is likely partially due to the age of the source. THE WAY I HEAR IT: 4/5 Although the original mono track is not included, the 5.1 remix is very nicely done. Things are mainly front and center, with the front sides and rears used for embellishment of music and effects. The LFE channel is also used appropriately. The mix is well put-together, with clear dialogue and OK dynamic range. Ivan Reitman mentions in the commentary track that the original 3-track music masters were used, and it shows. When a 5.1 mix is created to replace a mono source, this is what it should sound like. THE SWAG: 3/5 (rating combines quality and quantity) Commentary With Director Ivan Reitman And Writer/ Producer Dan Goldberg Reitman and Goldberg turn in a chatty, slightly above-average track. They go into a good amount of detail, although there are a few brief dead spots. Annoyingly, they reference a number of outtakes and suggest that the viewer check them out on the DVD, but they're nowhere to be found (unless they're hidden in an Easter Egg somewhere -- I hate Easter Eggs). Selecting the commentary track will automatically play the extended cut of the film. Stars And Stripes Part I (28:13) A collection of interviews with most of the major players in the film about the experience of the production, with a number of film clips mixed in. There's a lot of compliments being passed back and forth, but it's actually pretty entertaining, as this is a colorful bunch of characters in real life in addition to being wacky in the movie. Stars And Stripes Part II (27:28) A continuation of interviews and film clips. More of the same, obviously split up to keep things under the magic 30-minute limit. It's not the deepest making-of documentary, but it is fun and fans will want to watch it anyway. Deleted Scenes (17:44) These six scenes are simply the material that was re-inserted to create the extended cut of the film. They're anamorphic and have DD5.1 audio, which is always nice to see in the extra features, but watching them separately isn't really necessary after having watched the extended cut. Unfortunately, other outtakes referenced in the commentary aren't included. Previews: Four trailers are included. They can be selected from the main menu or the Special Features menu. Stripes (2:15) (DD2.0; 1.33:1 non-anamorphic) D. E. B. S. (1:56) (DD2.0; 1.78:1 anamorphic) 80s Hits (Ghostbusters, The Big Chill, The Karate Kid, St. Elmo's Fire, Stripes, & Stand By Me (2:52) (DD2.0; 1.33:1 non-anamorphic) Hitch (2:27) (DD5.1; 1.78:1 anamorphic) SUMMING IT ALL UP The Way I Feel About It: 3.5/5 The Way I See It: 2.5/5 The Way I Hear It: 4/5 The Swag: 3/5 With the incredible amount of double-dipping going on these days, it's nice to see a re-release that adds some substantive value and that doesn't appear until several years after the first disc. (I did not get a chance to compare the releases directly, but I have heard that the A/V quality of the new disc is far superior to that of the original.) Although Stripes doesn't really qualify as a true classic, it is a funny and much-loved film that shouldn't raise eyebrows by getting the Special Edition re-release treatment. With two cuts of the film, a nice presentation, and extra features that are worth checking out, despite the one annoyance of the forced "Bonus Scene" subtitles, Stripes: Extended Cut is worth picking up for any fan of the film.