This week:
Old School

Filthy says:
"Being immature is cool. Seriously

Old School is about immature men in their 30s. It's a funny movie with a shit plot and a final act that sucks the hook off a cat's dick. Deep at its core, though, its message is something I just don't agree with. That is, that immature men need to grow up.


At some point in our American history, this nation became obsessed with the ideas that immaturity is a bad thing. Just like it decided niceness was more important than interestingness, and wealth was more important than height. In America, immature people get chided and shut out by society. A guy can't dine in the best restaurants just because his jacket and tie aren't real; they're printed on his T-shirt. A full-grown woman can't walk down the street wearing a Hello Kitty backpack without the fear that me and my friends will make fun of her. That's fucked up. And in romance, the immature guy is screwed, but not literally. Once he hits 20 years of age people think he's a stalker just if he slowly drives by some pretty girl's house every night and sometimes parks, watching the lights go on and off and imagining he were inside the house with that pretty girl, turning the lights on and off. Then he pisses on her lawn, just to mark his territory. In this country, people think guys should go up to and talk to girls.

Other countries take a more sophisticated view of immaturity. The British are thrilled if adults bother to wear any shirt at all, or even a cardboard box, to dinner. In Japan, girls have not only Hello Kitty accessories, but also underwear, bras and cars, and guys willingly pay good money to get the soiled clothes from vending machines. The Canadians don't criticize the romantically obsessed, they reward them for their contributions to population control. You can't drive by a pretty girl's house in Ottawa and not see hundreds of dead spots in the lawn.

Not here in America. Nope. We as a society have decided that at some point everyone has to "grow up" and stop "getting arrested" for punching out that asshole from the Golden Teapot who whistles too loud. We say, "No, you need to settle down. You're too old to only date women who enable your fantasies of being an extremely sexy fetal alcohol syndrome baby in a messy diaper." Aren't we a poorer country for it?

Not according to Old School. For all the laugh-out-loud moments of immaturity, mostly provided by Will Ferrell, the movie says, "Okay, you've had your fun and seen young, naked boobies. But, really, wasn't it a hollow sort of fun?" Hell no.

Luke Wilson is a schlumpy 30-year-old real estate attorney who comes home from a seminar to find his wife involved with a naked, blindfolded couple and other guys popping in for the "gang bang." He moves out and, for some reason not explained, ends up in a house right beside the local university. The movie can't even remember whether he owns or rents the house. The house is good news for his newly separated pal Will Ferrell and sleazy-but-successful salesman friend Vince Vaughn. They decide that the only way to mend their broken hearts is by regressing to their own college days. They start an egalitarian fraternity that accepts men of all ages, no matter whether they are in school anymore. Their only commitment is to do no community service or have any socially redeeming values. Really, that's what every fraternity's about, but most make up some bullshit about philanthropy because they think it'll get them laid.

They quickly become the biggest men on campus, even though they don't go to school, and that draws the attention and ire of Jeremy Piven, the school's uptight and nefarious dean. In order to save the fraternity, the boys must compete in a series of events to prove their value to the school, and the Dean is determined to cheat them out of a fair shot. Yes, the plot is really this lame. No wait, it's even lamer. Because, in the process of the story, Wilson finds love and outgrows his need for immature nonsense.

Fuck the plot. It sucks. It's contrived, stupid, mechanical and annoying. It expects us to somehow care about characters enough to see them stop having fun in the name of "growth". However, in a movie like this, a plot is just a skeleton to hang the gags from. If the gags suck, you're screwed. Luckily Old School hits with about half of them. Besides Will Ferrell there are two reasons why this movie is funny. First, a lot of the jokes are original. Most shitty raunchy comedies are written by unimaginative hacks imitating a grossout formula from There's Something About Mary and American Pie. They don't know a new idea from their assholes, so they work the same old gags over and over like Mexicali whores, and think the grosser it is, the funnier it must be. Writer-director Todd Phillips rarely stoops to farts, poop or semen punchlines. He seems to know the punchline you're expecting and he makes the effort to subvert it. Second, the actors are funny. Rather than use some bankable, horsefaced fuckwad like Ashton Kutcher or Jerry O'Connell to smile a lot and not know the first thing about improving the material, Old School uses genuinely funny people. Besides Ferrell and Vaughn, there are two "Daily Show" correspondents and Andy Dick in the cast.

Will Ferrell is a funny guy. He's smart enough to play dumb and hurt to perfection. Invariably, he is the gracious, dimwitted butt of the jokes. I like people who are willing to be the butt, because, God damn it, I'm not and yet I end up in the role every Saturday night. It takes dedication to the joke for a guy as doughy as him to run around bare-assed as much as he does in this movie. Vaughn is also funny as the sleazy, facetious salesman. His coldhearted bullshitter was entertaining until the end where all the sudden he gets a heart. Luke Wilson is pretty lame as the central character. He's not funny, but he's not even given a chance to be. He has no good lines and his storyline is just wimpy romantic-comedy dickcheese. Mostly he looks whiny and appears to be a in a showdown with Edward Burns to see who can be the blandest leading man in the movies. Jeremy Piven 's evil dean is an embarrassment to even the shittiest movies in the frat-versus-dean genre. This is by far the movie's least inspired character. He doesn't elicit an audience's hatred or make our skin crawl the way Dean Wormer did in Animal House. He's boring, corny and predictable in his scheming hatred for the fraternity. I wonder if a better story about him ended up on some Hollywood cutting room floor, under the mounds cocaine and Little Debbie snack cake wrappers.

As I said, the plot is just a hot shovel full of horseshit headed toward our mouths. Director Phillips has an entertaining mess on his hands until he panics, and thinks he's a kid throwing a party at his parents' house. All the sudden, the fun has to stop, everything has to be cleaned up and put back in its place before the adults get back. All loose ends tie nicely, the main characters grow up and Wilson gets the girl of his dream. Fuck that. I paid for a good time, not to see these guys get all emotional. I didn't pay to see them compete in contrived and unfunny debates against James Carville, or see the fat kid win the gymnastics competition. I came to see Will Ferrell run around naked, and naked girls wrestle in K-Y jelly.

It's this whole thing about Americans and immaturity. Even a movie that milks all of its best moments out of grown men acting like children has to grow up and stop having fun. It's a funny movie, but for once, can't the adults just stay immature and stupid? If they can't do it in a movie, how the fuck am I supposed to get away with it in real life? Three Fingers for Old School.

Want to tell Filthy Something?


Filthy's Reading
Lewis Carrol - Alice in Wonderland

Listening to
Drive Like Jehu- Drive Like Jehu



Fatso Harry Knowles of Ain't It Cool News

Harry says about Poolhall Junkies "For anyone who knows what cool is... this film's for you!"

But, Harry, how in the world would you know? Maybe we should also ask Harry what the coolest fatty snack foods, pewter action figures and parents' homes to live in are.


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