Old School

Starring: Luke Wilson, Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn Directed by: Todd Phillips

As one of my goals for 2012 – in addition to publishing In The Queue on a more regular basis than I did in 2011 – I plan to fill some of the gaps in my movie viewing experience. Recently, my work compatriot Jeremy Alexander was shocked to hear I had never seen Old School and Wedding Crashers. At the time these movies were popular, I pretty much dismissed them (especially Old School). I wasn't really a fan of Will Ferrell in his SNL roles and hadn't yet seen the absolutely fabulous Talladega Nights or Anchorman yet.  So to begin playing catch-up on pop movies, I started with Old School.

The main trio of Mitch (Luke Wilson), Frank (Will Ferrell) and Beanie (Vince Vaughn) are theoretically representing the spectrum of relationships for 30-year-old males.  Beanie is jadedly married with two kids, coaches soccer for his 6ish-year-old and sometimes packs around the baby in one of those sling carrier things.

Will Ferrell is the newly-married and semi-domesticated guy…the one who dedicates weekend days to lame home shopping/improvement activities with his brand new wifey.  He didn't listen when Beanie tried a last-ditch (i.e. while the bride-to-be was walking down the aisle) and hilarious speech to get him to reconsider marriage.

Mild-mannered Mitch is newly single, catapulting himself out of a comfortable relationship after discovering his girlfriend (Juliette Lewis) hosted polyamorous parties while he was traveling for work.  Moving to a sweet rental house right off the campus of Harrison University, Mitch is ready to relax and regroup.  Beanie has bigger plans for Mitch and his new place – primarily turning it into party central, supplied by resources from the Speaker City store chain he owns.

Mitch – who would actually rather date women his own age like Nicole (Ellen Pompeo) – reluctantly joins in the fun but still has a good time.  Frank stumbles back into his party self, aka  "Frank the Tank," streaking his way out of his new wife's good graces.  And to boot, Harrison University Dean Pritchard (Jeremy Piven, whose character I assume was the inspiration for 'nerdy Pete Wentz' in the 2005 video for "Dance, Dance") recognizes Mitch, Beanie and Frank as guys who used to pick on him years ago.  He serves them with a notice the house has been re-zoned and now must be used only for campus housing or social service activities.

Mopey Mitch comes home the next night to find his house stuffed with guys of all ages, races, creed and levels of education.  To preserve his vicarious lifestyle, Beanie has decided they will start a fraternity in the house, open to everyone.  From this motley group, they choose 14 pledges – many college students, but also a couple middle-aged businessmen and an octogenarian named Blue that hangs around one of the Speaker City stores.  In an absolutely hilarious sequence of pledge kidnapping and hazing activities, the fraternity is born.  And thus they manage to escape the wrath of Dean Pritchard for the time being.

You know the rest – the Dean finds another way to block the guys, they find a loophole...happy ending, etc etc etc.  The movie overall is significantly funnier than I expected it, particularly due to:

  • Beanie's pre-wedding speech, with hilarious cautions to the groom punctuated by a ridiculously sappy compliment for the father of the bride.
  • The Fight Club-esque way people talk about the fraternity and refer to Mitch as The Godfather.
  • The pledge class having to work at Beanie's son's birthday party
  • The excellent peppering in of random stars in small roles and cameos here and there throughout the film.
  • The Dean Pritchard chase scene
  • The mini-scenes running during the credits.

If you:

  • Liked Revenge of the Nerds or any movie where the underdog wins
  • Don't take Greek Life too seriously
  • Are in the mood for a comedy that's wittily stupid

Put it in the queue!

However, if you:

  • Are worried your significant other will disapprove of your watching this movie or if you ARE a disapproving significant other
  • Don’t think streaking on the quad is funny
  • Cannot appreciate Vince Vaughn

Don't put it in the queue.

Written by Jennifer Venson