Old School Review
By Shawn McKenzie 02/21/2003
I had been wondering when an R-rated comedy was going to come out that didn’t rely on the crutch of gross-out jokes or parody. Where is the now old style of raunchy comedy? You know…with the gratuitous nudity and swearing? Movies like Animal House, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and Revenge of the Nerds seem to be long gone. Sure, we’ve had the two American Pie movies, and while they were both very funny, they don’t capture the spirit of those movies listed above. Now we have Old School, and like the movie’s theme of trying to recapture the old glory days, this movie brings back the glory days of the bawdy comedy.
Mitch Martin (Luke Wilson) is a man in his mid-thirties. He is a successful real estate lawyer, and lives with his fiancée Heidi (Juliette Lewis), yet his life doesn’t seem very fulfilled. One day, he comes home early from a business trip to discover that Heidi is a swinger, and he has walked in on her latest threesome. He decides to move out, and moves into a house that is technically on the grounds of a university. This pleases his two closest friends Beanie (Vince Vaughn) and Frank (Will Ferrell), as they now have a place in which to get away from their own lives. Beanie is the owner of an electronics store called Speaker City, married to Lara (Leah Remini), and has kids. Frank is a former party animal that went under the moniker “Frank the Tank,” but now has settled down and has recently married Marissa (Perrey Reeves.) Beanie admires the size and location of the house, and decides to hold a block party for the campus students. They hold a wild party, with a performance by Snoop Dogg, and it succeeds in getting Mitch out of his shell slightly. Unfortunately, the next day brings all of them many problems because of the party. For Mitch, it is because he wakes up the next day beside Darcie (Elisha Cuthbert), a young woman he finds out later he shouldn’t have slept with for a multitude of reasons. For Frank, the party tempted him to become The Tank again, and a late night naked jog down the street has resulted in the possible breakup of his marriage. For Beanie, it is the possible loss of his home away from home, since the party has angered the Dean of the University Gordon Pritchard (Jeremy Piven), who tries to get them evicted from their house, claiming that it is university property. Beanie finds a loophole in the campus rules and sets up the house as a fraternity house. He begins recruiting pledges to live in the house (some of which aren’t even students) and puts them through the hazing process. As the three guys run the frat house façade and Pritchard tries to find a way around the loophole, Mitch falls in love with an old friend he had in high school, Nicole (Ellen Pompeo), whom he runs into again at Frank’s wedding. The thing holding back their possible romance is her relationship with her current boyfriend, Mark (Craig Kilborn), a guy who isn’t the best long-term material. If the guys can keep from being kicked off campus, maybe they can find meaning in their lives.
Oh, where do I start? Todd Phillips, the man who had managed to direct a movie called Road Trip with Tom Green in it that was actually still funny despite Green, directed this movie. The performances in this movie are hilarious. I knew going into this movie that I would like Ferrell and Vaughn, but even people like Lewis, who normally annoys me, was good. Aside from the three guys, most of the supporting performances were either laid back or against type, which balanced out the film. Piven, who I would have pictured normally as one of the three guys (like his immortal performance in the classic college comedy PCU) does a surprisingly decent performance as the “bad guy.” Not that I want to see him do it all the time, but it does show he can do other roles aside from frat boys. The women (Pompeo, Remini, Reeves, Cuthbert) don’t have “wacky” roles, and it equalizes the antics of the guys (Lewis is about the “wackiest” character in the movie.) Wilson doesn’t exactly have any really wild scenes, but he holds his own.
Old School has got to be one of the funniest movies I have seen in a long time. It was a movie that made me keep a goofy grin on my face well past leaving the theater. The things about it are much too numerous to list here, but I can guarantee you that this is the best comedy of 2003 so far. I realize the marketing value of making PG-13 comedies, but come on! Let’s throw in a few more of these type of R-rated comedies for us adults. They are clearly the funniest ones.
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