Three men in their 30s who still want to behave like boys walk out on the women in their lives and move into a rambling house on the fringe of a college campus. When they throw a wild and willing housewarming party which many co-eds attend, they infuriate an uppity dean who makes moves to have them evicted. Mitch (Luke Wilson), Frank (Will Ferrell) and Beanie (Vince Vaughn) uncover a loophole in the law which means they can stay on and trash the place provided they can recruit enough misfits to form their own highly disruptive fraternity.
Review by Richard Kuipers:
The one and only American frat house comedy classic is 1978's Animal House. Since then, dozens of terrible imitators have been churned out and Old School is one of them. The novelty (or desperate marketing ploy) here is the idea of 35 year-old men deciding to re-live those crazy fun days of beer kegs in the kitchen and bodacious undergraduates in the bedroom. Best described as Porkys for the arrested development set, Old School tweaks a few giggles out of the gross-outs (an 89 year old 'frat boy' jelly wrestling a couple of topless babes, Will Ferrell's penchant for streaking) but can't overcome the rather sad premise of grown men acting like schoolboys. Nor can the slapdash screenplay connect the scenes with any coherence or supply any character development beyond what we learn in the first 30 seconds of meeting these superannuated party animals. What we get is a wet and dull Luke Wilson who sleeps with his boss' teenage daughter (Leah Rimini, in a role as thankless as all the women who appear), Will Ferrell as a decent if rather clumsy guy who suddenly can't wait to become a teenage loser all over again and Vince Vaughn as a rotten, sleazy husband and father whose revenge against marriage and responsibility is manipulating his dimwit pals so he won't feel so bad. None of this would matter too much if the film was actually funny but laughs are in short supply in this ole' house. There's a scene in which which Ferrell is shot with a tranquilizer and sinks to the bottom of a pool while Simon and Garfunkel's The Sounds Of Silence fills the soundtrack. It's intended to be a funny send-up of Dustin Hoffman's entrance in The Graduate but Ferrells blank gaze only sums up the cheap and tacky nature of this no-hoper comedy.
Review by Keith Lofthouse:
Ever since Animal House (1978) spawned a whole new subspecies of raucous and ribald campus comedies, audiences have had to sift through a sea of dross to uncover such rare pearls as Fast Times At Ridgemont High (1982). The search continues beyond this crude and coarse offering which scatters vague themes of loyalty and responsibility through every nook of the past-pubescent fraternity house like a tomcat spraying its scent. A good third of the film is burned building the bare bones of a plot which serves as an ill-fitting framework for a series of modestly foul and funny sight gags…the frat misfits initiated with concrete blocks attached to their penises; a tanked Frank bolting naked through town and being picked up by his mortified wife and her giggling girlfriends; Frank being stuck in the neck by a rhinoceros stun-gun and rolling into a pool at a kid’s party. Will Ferrell is such a dysfunctional dork that it’s hard not to like his fearless work in this, while Vaughn and Juliette Lewis (as Wilson’s nymphomaniac squeeze) are fine enough actors to make the marginal stuff work. There are lively cameos from Sean William Scott as an animal handler and Andy Dick in a brave, tasteless bit as a sex guru who resorts to carrots and cucumbers while coaching housefraus in the finer points of succoring their males. In essence, the female characters are treated shabbily…they are mere playthings, to be used, abused and dispensed with when they have outlived their usefulness by randy males. Likewise, writer-director Todd Phillips plonked his sexist stamp on the fitfully funnier Road Trip by including a gratuitous all-girl shower scene and this time he smothers “babes” in a KY jelly bath before they wrestle topless with an ill-fated geriatric. Phillips’ one-line scene (“I’m here for the gang-bang”) just about says it all. I watched this film with a broadsheet critic notorious for his whooping, hollering and knee-slapping relish of this kind of crap. Guess what! There was hardly a peep out of him, which probably means that the film is funnier than I thought.
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OLD SCHOOL (M)
CAST: Luke Wilson, Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn, Jeremy Piven, Ellen Pompeo, Juliette Lewis, Leah Remini, Craig Kilborn, Perrey Reeves, Elisha Cuthbert
PRODUCER: Daniel Goldberg, Joe Medjuck, Todd Phillips
DIRECTOR: Todd Phillips
SCRIPT: Todd Phillips, Scot Armstrong (Court Crandall, Todd Phillips, Scot Armstrong)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Mark Irwin
EDITOR: Michael Jablow
MUSIC: Theodore Shapiro
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Clark Hunter
RUNNING TIME: 90 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: May 29, 2003
RIVERSIDE SCREEN PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 6 consecutive Tuesdays, starts February 17, 2015 at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.