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Old School (2003)

3 stars3 stars3 stars

The college comedy was defined by Animal House and it's impossible not to see its influence on every movie in that genre ever since. Old School is in many ways a clone but with one important difference, the fraternity in question is started by men in their 30s who are no longer in school. The reason for that is simple, it lets them actors like Vince Vaughn, Luke Wilson and Will Ferrell, even though they are clearly way too old to play college students.

Let's cut right to the chase. This is a comedy. Is it funny? Yes, at times. The film is wildly uneven, flailing from scene to scene with no real sense of continuity or purpose. But it contains several scenes that are laugh out loud funny and for that alone I can recommend the film. Go ahead and check your brain at the door, you won't be needing it. If you're the sort who has to analyze the heck out of everything, you'll find nothing of value here. If you can just sit back and enjoy a good laugh, you'll be fine.

The story revolves around Mitch (Luke Wilson), an real estate lawyer who comes home early from a conference only to discover his girlfriend hosting a gang bang in their apartment. He leaves her and gets a new house, right next to the college campus. His friends Frank (Will Ferrell) and Beanie (Vince Vaughn) are delighted, seeing the potential for partying. Frank is recently married and struggling mightily under the sudden need for some maturity. Beanie is already married but is determined to use his friend Mitch as a way to lead the wild life again, even if it is somewhat vicariously. And of course there is the evil dean determined to ruin the fun. I like the casting here as Jeremy Piven plays the dean thus reversing position from his earlier film P.C.U.

There really isn't that much to say about the movie. It has no real point or message beyond providing some good laughs. Wilson, Vaughn and Ferrell give good performances in roles that play to their strengths. I admit a fondness for dumb comedies with a real lack of sensitivity and good taste. Viewed in that light, Old School is well worth a trip to the theater.

- John Shea

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Old School
Directed by:
Todd Phillips
Written by:
Todd Phillips
Court Crandall
Starring:
Luke Wilson
Vince Vaughn
Will Farrell
Jeremy Piven
Andy Dick
Seann William Scott
Ellen Pompeo
Sara Bryan
Sydney Bryan
Craig Kilborn
Juliette Lewis
Leah Remini