6. Animal House (1978)

ah1It’s 1962 Faber College. Roommates Larry Kroger (Tom Hulce) and Kent Dorfman (Stephen Furst) apply for Omega House but it’s soon obvious that they are being rejected.

They find the hard partying Delta Tau Chi House and wild man John ‘Bluto’ Blutarsky (John Belushi) where Dorfman is a legacy. The house is led by Otter (Tim Matheson) and Boon (Peter Riegert). Boon’s girlfriend Katy (Karen Allen) is serving beers. They are supported by pot-smoking English professor Jennings (Donald Sutherland). Dean Wormer aims to shut down Delta. Neidermeyer is rush chair for Omega and ROTC cadet officer.

This doesn’t seem like anything special nowadays and it does things that are common place today. However it was ground breaking for its time with its tasteless low-brow humor. It’s also not filled with comedians as one may expect. Of course, there is the great John Belushi and that’s enough for most movies. There are also memorable characters like Flounder and Neidermeyer.

It’s uneven and a bit messy. The leads are scattered through several characters. The female characters are underdeveloped and Mary Louise Weller has trouble keeping a straight face. Nevertheless, this is a great theatrical debut for National Lampoon and is a comedic landmark.

5. Old School (2003)

oldschool1Old school plays like a follow-up to the superior National Lampoon’s Animal House celebrating the decay of human decency. It is a comedy about carefree memories of generations gone by.

Luke Wilson arrives home from a business trip and discovers his girlfriend engaged in an orgy. He moves out and finds a place near university campus. Vince Vaughn runs a stereo store and believes that he has the answers to their problems. They will start a fraternity and relive years gone by. Will Ferrell is their recently married friend who streaks naked through the neighborhood after a drunken celebration at the frat house.

The film is directed by Todd Phillips in the same vein as his Road Trip. Wilson plays off the doormat disposition while Vaughn throws out one-liners. Ferrell steals the film with a hilarious performance but we sympathize as he gradually wrecks his marriage. Juliette Lewis plays Wilson’s ex girlfriend in a role that is hardly broad. Jeremy Piven plays the young snotty Dean but he has none of the comic conviction of a Dean Wormer.

The humor drains when the climax involves settling down and studying. In National Lampoon’s Animal House the fraternity is kicked off campus and they wreck the home coming parade. Recalling past events deserves more than a hopeless outlook on life.

4. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

FerrisBuellerThe film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is believed to be an iconic film by many. In this film Ferris Bueller, played by Matthew Broderick , is a high school student who has a knack for playing hooky. Knowing that this may be his last time he can skip school he develops an elaborate plan to pull it off.

Ferris, along with his friend Cameron Frye, played by Alan Ruck, and his girlfriend Sloane Peterson, played by Mia Sara, head to Chicago for the day. As they ditch school they have to stay one step ahead of their principle Ed Rooney, played by Jeffrey Jones, and Ferris’ sister Jeanie Bueller, played by Jennifer Grey.

The theme from this film has to be to live life to the fullest and make the most of everyday. Ferris Bueller is a character who makes the best of everything and encourages his friends to do the same.

If not for Ferris Bueller, Cameron may not have worked up the courage to confront his father about their relationship and Jeanie Bueller may not have found a new respect for Ferris and discover she needs to start focusing more on herself. In a way, this film reminds me of the film The Breakfast Club. Both films are about high school students dealing with a villainous principle who in the end, discover more about themselves than they ever knew before.

Dialog and music are two important techniques used in this film. The music selected heightens the suspenseful moments well and aids the quick cutting speed found throughout the film. The dialog of the film is an under-appreciated aspect. Ferris’ sharp and outlandish reasoning is something that can only be appreciated. There are many great techniques used throughout this film but the dialog and music proved to be key.

Both of these techniques play into the theme of the film, which is live it up to the fullest. The music selected was always boisterous and lightened and the dialog throughout the film is constantly about loosening up and having fun. In all, this is a great film and one that can be viewed over and over again.

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