College comedies tend to have a young teenage cast (American Pie 1 & 2, Road Trip, Porkyís etc) so itís a nice change to see a slightly older cast, as Old School deals with a more mature bunch Ė well mature is probably the wrong word, as this bunch are anything but.
Mitch Martin (Luke Wilson) arrives home unexpectedly early after a business conference to find his girlfriend, Heidi (Juliette Lewis) is not only watching hard core porn, but has a couple of semi-naked, blindfolded swingers ready for action. Mitch is shocked to discover that Heidi is a regular attendee at gang bangs and decides to move out.
Mitch has two very good friends, Beanie (Vince Vaughn) who is married with two young kids and Frank (Will Farrell) who is about to get married, despite the constant advice against it from Beanie. At the wedding Mitch meets a girl that he had a crush on at high school Nicole (Ellen Pompeo).
Having moved out Mitch rents a house on campus grounds near the local college and his two friends see this as an opportunity to party away from the women, so they commandeer the house as the new party pad. They decide to create their own fraternity house, complete with misfit pledges, which include 90 year old Blue (Patrick Cranshaw) and 30 stone Weensie (Jerod Mixon).
With the house in full party mode, the Dean (Jeremy Piven) decides that the trio are not fit to be on campus and tries to shut them down Ė unless they can pass the minimum qualifications to become a fully fledged fraternity. In fact the real reason is that the Dean was once locked in a bin by the Frank and Beanie when they were all at high school together many years ago.
With Frank kicked out by his new wife due to his drunken antics and Beanie promoting Mitch as the ĎGodfatherí, itís up to these three guys to get back at the Dean and keep from getting kick off campus. Added to this can Mitch win over Nicole?
Old School shows a surprisingly mature side, albeit during brief lulls between hi-jinks and other immature shenanigans. The three leads make the film and between them they do have more than the standard share of tender moments such as Frankís relationship with his wife and Beanie protecting his kids by using the codeword Ďearmuffsí which signals them to cover their ears so they donít have to hear the swearing of guys around them.
The funniest guy in the proceedings is Will Farrell as Frank, a man who on one hand is trying to be a good husband to his new wife, yet still the stigma of his past when he was Frank the Tank party animal/drunk, who pops up to haunt him. Farrell is the most physical of the three leads, but the other two make up in other ways. Vince Vaughn normally stiff acting style is put to good use and suits his instigator character well and Luke Wilson keeps his comedy low-key and dignified. Farrell not only has the lions share of the laughs, but also spends more time naked than anyone else in the film.
Director Todd Philips, who also directed Road Trip, has gone for keeping most of the laughs in the low-brow section and its works surprisingly well. Nudity, sex, drugs, drinking and larger-loutish behaviour are all included in the funniest scenes; shame that too many of the funniest laughs are included in the trailer. Logic is out the window when it comes to the reasoning behind the university policy regarding fraternities - perhaps its because we don't have them in England so it makes less sense to us.
On the whole Old School is enjoyable enough in its own way and if it had a weaker cast then itís questionable whether it could pass the grade. Itís worth seeing just to see an unforgettable rendition of ĎTotal Eclipse of the Heartí with some slightly unusual lyrics.
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