The Screening Room
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,
Special thanks to Click Communications
Photos: © DreamWorks. All
Blu-ray Quick Glimpse
Clearly "Animal House" had a profound impact
on the actors and filmmakers of "Old School"
Director: Todd Phillips
Executive Producer: Ivan Reitman (co-producer of
Cast: Luke Wilson, Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn
Deleted scenes, feature commentary, and more
Picture: Very Good
Sound: Very Good
Most of the original cast returns
Aspect Ratio (2.39:1)
BLU-RAY RELEASE DATE
December 16, 2008