OLD SCHOOL (2003)
Starring Luke Wilson, Vince Vaughn, Will Ferrell, Jeremy Piven, Ellen Pompeo, Juliette Lewis, Leah Remini, Craig Kilborn, Perrey Reeves, Elisha Cuthbert, Seann William Scott, Matt Walsh, Artie Lange, Sara Tanaka, Harve Presnell, Kate Ellis, Phe Caplan, Sarah Shahi, Terry O’Quinn, Andy Dick, Breckin Meyer, James Carville, Snoop Dogg and Warren G.
Screenplay by Todd Phillips & Scot Armstrong.
Directed by Todd Phillips.
Distributed by Dreamworks Pictures. 91 minutes. Rated R.
When I was about thirty, a few friends and I went back up to the old alma mater, Penn State, for a football weekend. My buddy Drew’s younger brother was a student there, and he invited us to a frat party. Now, I don’t know if it was just because we were all single and still went out regularly, or if it was just naiveté on our part, but we thought we’d still fit in. We were there for about ten minutes… during which time I realized how much I’d come to rely on air conditioning in the eight years since graduation… when the host went up to Drew’s brother and told him, “Hey, don’t take this the wrong way, but half the people here think your friends are narcs.” And thus ended our frat party days.
Old School is made for the people… like we were… who hadn’t quite realized (or at least acknowledged) that they’d ever graduated. It is the story of three guys in their mid-thirties who decide to start a college fraternity. The fact that they are not students or even affiliated with the college is not a serious problem for the guys in this film… and of course that leads to the little bit of an actual plot that intrudes on the 91 minutes of beer and tit jokes. It’s a teen sex romp, so let’s not burden ourselves with crap like reality.
While this isn’t a great film, some of it is pretty funny. The three guys are played by a pretty unspectacular group of actors. I’ve always liked Vince Vaughn, but frankly he has been playing variations of the same character since his breakthrough with Swingers. Less impressive is Luke Wilson as the straight guy; he doesn’t evoke much reaction one way or the other. (At least he’s not nearly as annoying as his brother Owen always is, that’s something, right?) I was never a fan of Will Ferrell in Saturday Night Live, I always felt his humor was rather mean-spirited, even when it was aimed at himself. Well, Ferrell is going for broke here trying to be a breakout star, but frankly I still find him to be kind of annoying. Oh, and please, please, PLEASE, Will, we know you have a doughy white shapeless body, stop showing it off for comic effect in everything you do.
In its heart, Old School really just wants to be National Lampoon’s Animal House, though it doesn’t reach those giddy heights (actually, it’s a lot closer to National Lampoon’s Van Wilder.) The guys are stupid and vulgar; the women are clichéd and ciphers. You will laugh during parts of Old School, though you may feel embarrassed by it later. (2/03)
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2003 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: March 30, 2003.