by Eric D. Snider
Released: February 21, 2003
"Old School" is, in fact, an old-school film in the spirit of "Porky's," with "Saturday Night Live" alum Will Ferrell filling the John Belushi role of chief mischief-maker and beer-imbiber.
There is little other point to the film than what is implied in that statement. It has only the barest remnants of a plot, its agenda instead focused on whimsical debauchery and random comic nudity. It is gleefully crass, and even irrelevantly so: One of the funniest moments is a profanity-laden version of "Total Eclipse of the Heart," sung at a wedding reception as a throw-away joke.
As such, it's only as funny as you allow yourself to think it is. Don't take your mother to see it, or a date. Don't schedule it as entertainment at a church function. Don't view it on your last night before entering a monastery.
Luke Wilson is the star and straight man as Mitch, a lawyer whose live-in girlfriend (Juliette Lewis) has developed a hostile position toward monogamy, inspiring him to move out and buy a house near the local university.
His friends, newly married Frank (Ferrell) and married but unhappy Beanie (Vince Vaughn), use the house's proximity to campus as an excuse to turn it into an unofficial fraternity, drawing in crowds of students in search of free beer and camaraderie.
It also attracts the attention of a crusty old dean -- yes, this college-hijinks movie has a crusty old dean -- named Pritchard (Jeremy Piven), a long-time rival of the trio from their own college days 10 years earlier.
There are amusing cameos from Snoop Dogg and Seann William Scott, as well as a horrifically unfunny one from Andy Dick. The humor is generally sexual, but not of the gross-out variety, despite being from "Road Trip" writers Todd Phillips and Scot Armstrong (Phillips also directed both films).
Vaughn gets off a few good lines and Wilson is OK, but it's Ferrell whom viewers will remember. As he has proven on "Saturday Night Live" and multiple small film roles, he excels at loosy-goosey, dignity-free merriment and can deliver even the most average of punch lines with enough lunacy to merit a laugh.
"Old School" has its ups and downs, but its raucous, casual attitude is infectious. For its genre -- ridiculous, subversive films that young people like -- it's above-average, and a nice reminder that when you get right down to it, college is pretty silly.
Rated R, frequent harsh profanity, a lot of non-sexual nudity, some very strong sexuality
1 hr., 31 min.
Copyright © Eric D. Snider.
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