" For your information, my life is a living Hell "
— Elizabeth Hurley (as the devil), Bedazzled

MRQE Top Critic

The Great Train Robbery

(review...)

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Like the movie, this review is rated R for language and “adult” themes

My usual movie buddy turned down the invitation to Old School. “It’s just about a bunch of immature guys. I find that irritating,” she said.

If only I had listened.

There’s Something About Dean

T&A and immature men drinking beer. Perfect.
T&A and immature men drinking beer. Perfect.

Commitment is the enemy in this lackluster comedy. Frank (Will Ferrell) is recently married and feels emasculated by it. Beanie (Vince Vaughn) is married and has a kid, and is even faithful to his wife, but he finds every opportunity to make cutting jokes about it. Mitch (Luke Wilson) takes the cake. His wife arranged for a gang bang while he was out of town, so he leaves her.

The premise behind Old School — that these post-collegiate men are going to start their own fraternity — is never explained very well. It has something to do with an embittered Dean getting Mitch’s new house rezoned after his friends throw him a disruptive party. The new zoning says the house may only be used for university functions, so they have to move out. But inspiration hits, and rather than move out, they turn the house into a fraternity.

For some reason, non-students are allowed to pledge, including not only the 30-year-old friends, but an 89-year-old geezer named Blue. A few students join, too, just to lend it some credibility, although at this point, credibility doesn’t seem to be an issue.

The movie cruises along on autopilot, showing us more comic set pieces about fraternity life than it has to. Finally, a contrived competition arises that gives the movie enough of a conflict to create an ending.

Old School Comedy

It’s clear from the ad campaign that Old School is immature, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some laughs to be had.

Vince Vaughn is funny in just about every scene he’s in. His character takes everything in stride, whether he’s dancing cheerleader moves for the fraternity competition, or supervising his kids while talking man-talk with his friends — “Earmuffs” is all he has to say and his son covers his ears so that daddy can swear.

Will Ferrell also has a schtick that works just about everywhere. He’s an average joe, not particularly handsome, just one of the guys, and as a comic, he’s willing to do anything for his craft. He’s a dignity-loser, like Ben Stiller, only with less self-consciousness and less style.

Twits & Crass

But in amongst the comedy, there are scenes that are embarrassingly crass. The movie has gratuitous T&A, some fat-guy jokes, and of course too much of Ferrell’s pasty white ass. There are penis jokes and blowjob jokes and one or two intoxication jokes. Occasionally these yanked a chuckle from me, but only against my better judgment, and not very often.

Except for a few highlights, Old School is not funny enough to make a movie. Like my friend predicted, it’s just a bunch of guys being immature. It’s irritating.

  • IAN: You really have no clue as to what is funny. Old school is a poor idea on paper but the cast carry this film and it is one of the best popcorn comedies I have seen.

    July 19, 2006 reply