“Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!”
The Scoop: 1978 R directed by John Landis and starring John Belushi, Tim Matheson, and Donald Sutherland
Tagline: It was the Deltas against the rules… the rules lost!
Summary Capsule: Delta House fights against the administration, fellow students, and oppression of parties everywhere.
Justin’s Rating: Spank-a-Doodle-Dandy
Justin’s Review: There are scenes in this movie that are certainly innovative and fascinating, and even more that draw attention to sheer crudity and a spirit of gross-out. The point where I nearly lost my lunch came in a “morning after” scene, where a college co-ed and her professor are milling around the house. The professor is Donald Sutherland, who parades around in nothing but a shirt and effectively moons the audience. That, my friends, shocked my hormones into a coma from which they still have not recovered.
If you’re not familiar with any of the Lampoon movies, they typically revolve around a group of weirdos doing weird things, while trying to have sex and get drunk. The epitome of this can be found in National Lampoon’s Animal House, a 70’s film about a 60’s frat. It’s somewhat awkward and devoid of a driving plot, instead following around various members of Delta House as they wreak havoc at college. Inevitably, The Man tries to take away Delta House, and the frat is forced to fight back.
I never really liked this film. Don’t get me wrong, I consider this John Belushi’s second greatest role (after The Blues Brothers), but other than his character Bluto, the movie staggers around like we’ve gotten drunk along with the frat. Funny moments are overshadowed by offensiveness for the sheer sake of being offensive; characters we care about are shoved aside for more drunken orgies. Hey, I’m as ready as the next guy when it comes to strapping on a bedsheet and shouting “Toga! Toga! Toga!”, but the spirit of anarchy in this film only gets fun toward the end.
And in the last fifteen minutes lie the only redeeming part of Animal House. Let’s just say, you don’t keep a good frat down. If the rest of the movie got a D-, this segment would get an A.
I’m not comparing this movie to any other one, since this film single-handedly started the crazy college genre. But deep inside my gut, when it isn’t going “Feed Me Bad Pizza,” it tells me that this film is certainly not worthy of the national obsession it caused. Perhaps you disagree. But remember, everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, as long as it agrees with mine.
Kyle’s Rating: My house? Three unwashed freaks short of official Delta House status
Kyle’s Review: If you’ve been in college, you know that even though it’s more mature than high school, it’s still important to have a protective circle of friends. And that’s what Animal House is to me: the story of a fraternity house full of friends. They don’t have much in common, just drinking beer and drinking some more beer, but isn’t that enough in this crazy world of ours?
This has just the anti-heroes you need: college students who just want to have fun, and drink some beer, rather than worry about graduate. Why would you want to, really, and leave all this drinking?
If you don’t like a bunch of college kids drinking, you probably won’t like this movie, where the drinking is interspersed around tales of petty revenge, first-time drug use, and using accidental death to get chicks. All the action is set against the battle for a small college town. Don’t see Animal House expecting life-altering Oscar-calibre acting or any plot of any kind: see it because it’s fun and it all ends well. And you’ll never look at beer, or Jack Daniels, the same way again.
One last thing. If you don’t quite trust the advice of a young whippersnapper like me who was barely a dream in my parents’ head during the 60’s, trust the words of my extraordinarily wise college philosophy teacher, Mike, who always had this to say about Animal House: “You do underrate the importance of Animal House. The movie came out during my freshman year in college when I joined a fraternity. Of course I can barely remember the three years that followed. It is more than a movie, it is a social statement, a commentary on a generation.”
He still drinks today, I’ve heard, so he’s as wise as he ever was.
Andie’s Rating: S-I-G-M-A, Sigma-Chi-Delta hey!
Andie’s Review: Can you believe I’d never actually seen Animal House all the way through until just a few weeks ago? It’s true. I’d seen most of it, but never all at one time. What I discovered when I finally sat down to watch it was a hilarious campus comedy!!! If you’ve ever been in college this is funny and if you’ve ever been in a Greek organization, this is downright hysterical. Parts of this almost caused me to snort Coke out my nose (the pop, not the drug).
These guys seriously have no idea how close they really came to Greek life. Every campus has their scary, preppy fraternities like the Omegas. I’ve heard stories about some of the things our frats do to their pledges and the spanking thing is probably not far off. Every campus also has their run-of-the-mill, fun party guys like the Deltas. Incidentally, at both college campuses I frequent the fraternity that is most like Bluto’s Delta Boys is, interestingly enough, Delta Chi.
I thought the plot about losing their charter was pretty much there just so they could show us all the craziness of Neidermeier and the Omegas and all the wacky hijinks of Bluto and the Deltas. It really did nothing but provide a somewhat plausible tie-in for everything and also gave us a terrific ending. Personally, I think PCU pretty much ripped off the entire plot right down to losing the charter, a tyrannical Dean of the University, and throwing a big party instead of doing something more productive. Animal House did it first and did it better, but PCU is still pretty funny.
Anyway, Animal House has so many outstanding moments. I love when Pinto (Tom Hulce, who I’ve always had such a thing for) is debating with himself on whether or not to go for the passed out girl and the little devil and the little angel pop up on his shoulder. That is classic. And when he takes her home in a shopping cart, rings the doorbell and runs for his life? I about peed my pants that made me laugh so hard. The antics of this movie are so outrageous and yet believable that they make it great. The final scene ALONE is worth the price of admission. Last year for Homecoming, my team’s float was a giant white cake that said Eat Me on it and the Delta Chi float was a car made up to look like the Deathmobile. Pretty cool. I would love to see somebody wreak havoc like that on our homecoming parade. Especially the messing with the marching band. What a bunch of sheep!
Anyway, I also love the relationship between Katie and Boon, even though she does start sleeping with skeazy Donald Sutherland (seeing his ass was enough to scar me for life). I totally do not understand this affair because I think Boon is really cute and sweet and she goes for yucky hippie professor instead? Ewwwwww. But beyond everybody else, I absolutely LOVE Otter. He is so slimy and skanky while also being totally cute and charming. I mean, he uses his “girlfriend’s” death to wangle dates and picks up Dean Wormer’s wife. How smooth is that?
I truly think Animal House has something for everyone. It is so hilarious and silly and exactly what you wish your college career could be like. I think a fun Friday night (when you’re not out at a Toga Party) would be to stay in and make it a double feature of Animal House and it’s 90s counterpart, PCU.