Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. USA, 1981. Columbia Pictures. Screenplay by Len Blum, Daniel Goldberg, Harold Ramis. Cinematography by Bill Butler. Produced by Music by Production Design by Costume Design by Film Editing by
Bill Murray has a hell of a day when he loses his job and girlfriend at once, finding himself without a hope in the world of living a decent, adult life. Thankfully there’s an army recruitment commercial on TV and he realizes it’s his only chance to move in a healthy direction, so he grabs his equally miserable ESL teacher friend Harold Ramis (who also co-wrote the script) and they head for the enlistment office. These rumpled, sarcastic goofs are immediately put into basic training with equally mischievous and disrespectful rascals like themselves, with a hardass training officer (Warren Oates) who is determined to make something decent out of these slobs, but the desire to sleep in and chase girls is much stronger than the need to learn formations or improve their physical bearing. They manage to pull it together, however, which means that their ingenuity will be tested when they are sent on a mission to Europe and have to rescue their colleagues from a Soviet prison. It’s silly and often quite immature, a less intelligent male counterpart to the previous year’s Private Benjamin, yet told with such smooth spontaneity and relying so wisely on the charms of its performers (which also include adorably young P.J. Soles and Sean Young as love interests) that you’ll have a great time watching it.