I declared as one of my New Year’s resolutions that I would watch more classic old movies, so each month I’m devoting an entry to how I’m doing with it. It has been a very busy month, so I have only one selection to review, but in honor of the college commencement season, it’s a classic:
Animal House (1978) (4 stars out of 4)
This wonderfully tasteless comedy about the debauched Delta fraternity at (thankfully fictional) Faber College during the early 60s ranks as one of my favorite movies ever. I watch it roughly every year — including this past weekend — and every time it cracks me up. It is so full of hilarious lines and scenes, I cannot even begin to list them out. (The IMDb site has collected many of the best quotes here.)
Animal House launched John Belushi as a major star, playing deranged Delta frat member John Blutarsky. Other favorite cast members of mine include Tom Hulce (as Larry Kroger), Stephen Furst (Kent Dorfman), James Widdoes (Eric Hoover), Tim Matheson (Eric Stratton), Karen Allen (Katy), Bruce McGill (“D Day”), John Vernon (Dean Wormer), Verna Bloom (Marion Wormer), Kevin Bacon (Chip Diller), and Mark Metcalf (Doug Neidermeyer).
Director John Landis and writers Harold Ramis, Doug Kenney, and Chris Miller did brilliant work here.
The extras included in the “Double Secret Probation” DVD edition are worth checking out as well. They include a reunion video that contains some great stories about the making of the movie. They obviously had a lot of fun on this production. Many of the cast members apparently lived their roles off screen as well, including a lot of partying.
I was in college when the movie was released, and let’s just say that it had a massive influence on campus life at schools across the country, for better or worse (usually the latter). Fraternity life, inspired by the movie, often went haywire, and toga parties became all the rage.
I was a hardcore independent, more likely to be lobbing criticisms at frat behavior from my perch as a campus newspaper reporter and editor than joining in on the hijinks, so perhaps it is odd that I find this movie to be so uncontrollably funny. Animal House manages to skirt around some of the darker excesses of fraternity life during the era, and it puts a hilarious spin on the rest of it.