The long and noble lineage includes Buck Privates, Private Buckaroo, Caught in the Draft and Jumping Jacks. "Part of a lost and restless generation," Bill Murrayís smartass cabbie is a bravura turn soundly founded on Groucho Marx (the tipoff is a skirmish with a New York dowager) but with a distinct post-Saturday Night Live hipster disdain ("I donít think Iíve ever been this happy in my entire life," he deadpans after getting his shoes shined). In short order, he loses his job, car and girlfriend, and then his self-respect when he nearly dies trying to do five pushups. An Army ad plays on the telly. "That looks pretty good," so off he heads to the barracks with fellow schlub Harold Ramis. Others in slapstick basic-training include Judge Reinholdís head-bobbing stoner, Conrad Dunnís adroit tribute to Travis Bickle, and John Candyís sweet-natured Ollie, who finds his Stan in hayseed John Diehl and his "aggression-training" mojo in a bikini mud-wrestling pit. Despite the Animal House vibe, itís really a military pamphlet: The company captain (John Larroquette) may play with toy soldiers but the sergeant (Warren Oates) is a tough-yet-fair papa, given a war heroís sendoff. Vietnam is a forgotten chapter, this is Reaganís Good Army -- when Ivan Reitman needs to storm the Eastern Bloc in a Winnebago packed with rockets, he has the official okey-dokey for dozens of tanks and explosions. (By the time An Officer and a Gentleman rolls in, the pretense of burlesque has melted away.) Still, Murrayís insouciant Sixties clowning survives being parachuted into the Eighties, blessedly ensuring that patriotism doesnít have to exclude the erotic joys of tickling P.J. Soles with an ice-cream scoop. With Sean Young, John Voldstad, Lance LeGault, Anthony Pagan, Roberta Leighton, Joe Flaherty, and Dave Thomas.
--- Fernando F. Croce