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
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
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
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.