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Oh, God!  I confess it's true.  I watched 'Old School'.  Now what self- respecting moviegoer would want to watch a film like 'Old School', you might ask?  My own personal reason was temporary insanity, which I seem to have a tendency towards these days.  My schedule was free and it just happened to be on one of the major cable channels (in the afternoon!!) and I figured well, I don't really want to tape it so as a wannabe professional critic I might as well just watch it now and get it over with.  Although to be fair, I didn't see all of Craig Kilborn's first scene which sets up crucial arguments later on in the movie.

Anyway, for those attuned to such things, the first thing one will notice immediately is the film's striking resemblance to (National Lampoon's) 'Animal House' in structure and, more insidiously so, in confident, authoritative tone.  I assume this is because of the association of Ivan Reitman, one of the original producers of the original 'Animal House', so he'll at least know how to do it right.  However, 'Animal House' still has more integrity, and I dare say it's still raunchier than 'Old School', for there is no scene in 'Old School' as raunchy and as satirically hilarious as the scene where the one preppie couple is parked in a make-out spot, and she's wearing gloves because ... well, you know the scene I mean.  If not, you should just check it out for yourself.  

As for the obligatory raunchiness the film actually moves past these scenes quite efficiently to move what little plot there is to move forward, except for Will Ferrell's streaking scene.  Some have complained about the gratuitous nudity of the fat black guy, but even the most humorless viewer has to admit there is a joke there (the unique frat trust drop), and besides, it's all for charity.  Of course, I was watching the 'R' rated version and not the unrated version, so I was perhaps spared from more drawn-out raunchiness. 

It came as very little surprise to me that the girl Mitch sleeps with would surely turn up later as more closely related than he first thought.  Some critics may cry rape, and have, but the film tries rather blatantly to not offend anyone in this instance, covering all its bases by showing that it was more the girl's idea anyway, as she says "Don't worry about it" at least a couple times.  The commercials painted Ferrell's character as a supreme champion of the anti-monogamy movement but I was actually pleasantly surprised that the film provided a deconstruction of it.  During the homage to 'The Graduate' his dream sequence involves only his wife, and I don't believe Ferrell scored with anyone else in the movie, but rather just trudged along a slow, almost tragic path to divorce.  With some binge drinking and binge tranc darts along the way.  So, the film gets some bonus points for that.  And for "Blue, you're my boy!"

I must say something about Jeremy Piven's character.  Oh, the irony; why it wasn't so long ago that there was PCU, and now he's on the opposite side of that fence.  It's ironic, right?  He's no Dean Wormer, and ... if only because he's the same age as the protagonists.  With 'Animal House' there was a more definite generation gap, the lines between good and evil a little more clearcut.  That, and the way he tries to expel them from the college are just stupid, and frankly unbecoming of a Dean's Office.

Finally, the film's contrived third act (Old School's) rips off the fraternity competition in Revenge of the Nerds.  Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, but Old School tries to have it both ways.  At least Delta House went down in a blaze of glory.  They took the test and failed, but didn't also demand a recount afterwards.


Good double bill with: Animal House.  Or, maybe not.  Better watch Old School first, then Animal House so you'd be more inclined to prefer Old School.

Activity for Literature / English / Screenwriting students: What is Vince Vaughn's character's motivation?  Is he really only just trying to get Mitch to 'lighten up'?

-so sayeth the Movie Hooligan

(c)2004 Bulk Entertainment

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