Friday, January 5, 2018

Animal House

Animal House; comedy, USA, 1978; D: John Landis, S: Peter Riegert, Tim Matheson, John Belushi, Tom Hulce, John Vernon, Donald Sutherland, Stephen Furst, James Daughton, Verna Bloom, Karen Allen, Kevin Bacon

Faber University, '62. Freshmen Larry and Kent try to enter the Omega fraternity, but fail to become members because they are judged unworthy. They thus enter the Delta fraternity, instead. The Deltas are lead by the most unrepresentable students, including Otter, Boon, Hoover and Bluto, and thus their house is full of drunks, wackos and motorcycles. Dean Wormer hates the Deltas and just waits for a pretext to throw them out. Niedermeyer, from the Omegas, terrorizes the students, so Bluto scares his horse that drops dead. Professor Jennings sells drugs whereas Boon ends a relationship with a girl. Since the Deltas have bad grades, the Dean expels them, so they take revenge by creating chaos on a street parade and later on actually find good jobs.

An early work of the director John Landis (excellent "The Blues Brothers" and "An American Werewolf in London"), this comedy about naughty University students beat all expectations when it became a smash hit and the 6th highest grossing movie of the decade, topping even the box office results of "Superman", "The Godfather" and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind". The humor here is broad and vulgar, but also frequently hilarious. In the opening act, freshman students Larry and Kent arrive at the house of the Delta fraternity and immediately witness their outrageous behavior when a puppet is thrown out the window, beer cans are constantly flying into the walls while motorcycles drive through the stairs. The Dean and his assistant have this exchange: "What is the worst fraternity on this campus?" - "That would be hard to say, Sir. They are each outstanding in their own way." When Larry is in bed with a girl, a small devil appears on his left shoulder, trying to talk him into using her, while on his right shoulder, an angel appears that tries to talk him out of it. And "National Lampoon" was probably the first movie that introduced one legendary joke that was copied a thousand times over the next decades: the one where someone hides an insult (*bullshit* and *eat me* in this case) inside a cough. Too bad all the characters are only of episodic nature, including the ostensibly leading role of Boon, which makes the story wonder all over the place in search for some focus or a lead to follow, ending up inevitably slightly chaotic and disorganized. Still, it has its moments for those who like 'slob comedies' where anything goes and there are surprises, and John Belushi is in good shape as the obnoxious Bluto, while the head writer was Harold Ramis, who would hereby start his movie career.


No comments: