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The Screening Room
old school
THE STUDIO GATE
My dad was part of a fraternity back in the 1960s. Though I've picked his brain on his misadventures of parties and boozing, he's been coy on what he actually did. He rode a motorcycle and bartended at night. He still has a huge decanter that was lovingly displayed in its own wooden holder for years in our house. He said it was for "medical" use, as memory serves. He told me that he had to take classes in medicine and the decanter was used for measuring chemicals. Yeah, we know what kind of chemicals, Dad.

When I was ten, my parents took me to see "Animal House" at the Stadium Drive-in theater in Orange, California. My dad and I were laughing hysterically at the antics of Delta House. I think he might have related to those guys on-screen. I just thought it was bawdy humor that I knew that my young eyes shouldn't be seeing. I thought it was very funny. My mom, being ever so protective, told me to duck behind the seat when nude girls turned up in the movie. Thank goodness for home video in later years. I could now see what I wasn't supposed to be seeing!

Once I went to college, it was every bit as crazy as my imagination thought it would be. Endless parties and booze, mixed with young women looking for trouble. Now many of those people, I imagine, are grown adults with mortgages and children. My life, in a sense, has been a parallel of my dad's. I wasn't a partier in college and I didn't partake in booze (I've never really been a drinker). Yet from my now adult married with child eyes, I can see why my dad had a great time in college.

Which brings me to the review of "Old School," now available on Blu-ray.

Like Will Ferrell's other classic movie, "Elf," I didn't think the previews did it any justice. By luck, I got it as a Christmas present on DVD one year. My wife, who was in the other room, couldn't understand why I was choking from hysterical laughter. From the very first scene, I was laughing non-stop. "Old School" was cool.

Bawdy and totally raunchy, it's one of those movies that my wife wouldn't totally appreciate. She didn't understand my taste in humor with movies like "Airplane!" or "The Naked Gun." So she wouldn't, no matter how many times I tried to convince, watch "Old School."

The film is actually well plotted and doesn't resort to trying to be serious for a moment. It doesn't try to convey a moral message, though one of the characters does show some morality (just not much). This is comedy in the tradition of "Animal House" and I think it's actually funnier. Not by much because "Animal House" is a classic. But I think it shoots at its targets and hits them.

Ferrell sometimes doesn't make me laugh. He does occasionally do the same "shtick" as he's done with previous characters and the act can get kind of stale. Yet he is one of the few comedians that I've enjoyed over the years without getting too tired of him. In this movie, he's perfectly cast as a straight-laced new husband who falls quickly back into his college days of boozing and acting like a nut. I haven't laughed this hard in a long time at a movie. When he shoots himself accidentally with a tranquilizer dart, I thought I'd coughed up a lung from laughing so much. Stupid humor? Oh yes. Hilarious? Totally. "Dust in the Wind..."

The rest of the cast is equally funny. Luke Wilson, the straight man in the movie, provides balance to the antics. Vince Vaughn pretty much repeats his calm yet funny character he plays in almost every movie. Jeremy Piven plays the school dean with a nod to Jamie Escalante, the famous teacher featured in "Stand and Deliver" (1988).

The Blu-ray features a very good picture. Don't go in expecting super sharp picture quality, because the transfer seems faithful to the original Super 35 widescreen image. The soundtrack is clean and well presented. It's not a strong mix like "Iron Man," but I wouldn't expect that from a comedy like this. Everything looks and sounds good.

I'll have to ask my dad if he's seen "Old School." Though he's older now, he might chuckle at the antics of Frank "The Tank" and Blue. College memories, yes!     
  
        
Bill Kallay

Special thanks to Click Communications

Photos: DreamWorks. All rights reserved.
Blu-ray Quick Glimpse

cover


MOVIE

Clearly "Animal House" had a profound impact on the actors and filmmakers of "Old School"

TALENT
Director: Todd Phillips

Executive Producer: Ivan Reitman (co-producer of "Animal House")  

Cast: Luke Wilson, Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn  

FEATURES
Deleted scenes, feature commentary, and more

RATING
Unrated

BLU-RAY
Picture: Very Good
Sound: Very Good

GEEK OUT
Most of the original cast returns

TECH SPECS
Aspect Ratio (2.39:1)

Dolby TrueHD

BLU-RAY
RELEASE DATE
December 16, 2008
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