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"Old School"

Directed by Todd Phillips.
Written by Todd Phillips and Scot Armstrong.
Starring Luke Wilson, Will Ferrell and Vince Vaughn. 
Release Year:  2003 
Review Date:  2/26/03


It was Monday night.  I got my roommate Jon, Brett, Kern and her fiancé Drew to come hang out at the local theater to catch up with the new comedy “Old School.”

I had heard good things.  My man Rob “Jellybean” Grant called me to tell me just one thing on Saturday afternoon--“Dude, ‘Old School’ was fuckin’ hilarious.  Seriously, I am hurting right now.”  I like Rob, I trust Rob, I knew that the promise of a good trailer would translate into a good film.  But, how good?

Friends, let me put it to you this way:  you know on ESPN, after a great game has been played, they sometimes list the game as an “instant classic” and re-air the game on ESPN Classic later in the same week?  That is what should happen with “Old School”--they ought to release the DVD of this thing RIGHT NOW, so I can go out and buy it and relish in the sheer hilarity of watching Will Ferrell do...anything, or Vince Vaughn say “Earmuffs!!” or have Seann William Scott (aka Stifler, from the “American Pie” films) walk around with one of the worst mullets ever or having the director himself show up at a door and say “I’m here...for the gang bang!”

The man that brought us the hilarious “Road Trip”, Todd Phillips, gives us another dirty, guy-driven frat movie--this one taking place AT a frat, not just a movie for the frat-like guys it features--and, “Old School” is nearly perfect.  The story of Mitch (Luke Wilson)--a 30-year-old man scorned that decides, along with his best friends Beanie (Vaughn) and Frank “The Tank” (Ferrell), to start a fraternity at a local college in New York--is ridiculous to begin with...and, the hijinks only get crazier as the film builds to its climax as the men try to validate the status of their new fraternity with members of the school’s board to avoid eviction.

I am positive that there was not more than a 90-second stretch of “Old School” where I wasn’t laughing at something.  “Old School” has it all--the broad slapstick, physical comedy, funny lines, perfectly-timed cameos (Snoop, as a rapper?  Andy Dick, as an over-the-top oral sex instructor?  Craig Kilborn playing—surprise--an asshole?  Elisha Cuthbert, on loan from “24”, as a hottie?) and loads of background jokes that you assuredly missed the first time around.  Seriously, this is probably the only funeral scene in film history that is fall-out-of-your-chair hilarious!  Frank destroying a love song while one of the funeral party members is grooving to the beat?  Then afterwards, when Frank listens as his wife of only a few weeks says she wants a divorce...his reaction?

“Oh yeah?  Yeah...well, listen, I’ve gotta run...keep on trucking, okay?  Good stuff...”

I swear to God above, they need to create a special Oscar category for actors in these kinds of comedies, because Ferrell is not going to win the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his work in “Old School”, but he should.  From his naked streaking to his hilarious Frank “The Tank” dance, to his commentary during the marriage counseling to the tranq gun to his jump through the ring of fire to his final line...remember how I was saying recently that Ferrell makes shitty films livable?  Well, in “Old School”, he makes an already solid film fantastic.  In terms of former “Saturday Night Live” players, Ferrell has officially moved into Phil Hartman range for me; rarefied air, indeed.  The man can simply do anything.  Vaughn is back on familiar turf as Beanie--spouting line after line in rapid-fire succession while playing a complete asshole, you forget that he sold out a few years ago and did “Jurassic Park II” and makes you remember the promise he had after his work in “Swingers.”

The rare comedy that makes you want to see it again in theaters because there are so many funny jokes.  Catch it now, not later.

Rating:  Opening Weekend


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09