February 2003
Old School

Reviewed by Godfrey Powell

Old School
Distributor: Dreamworks SKG
Director: Todd Phillips
Producers: Daniel Goldberg, Joe Medjuck, & Todd Phillips
Executive Producers: Ivan Reitman & Tom Pollock
Screenwriters: Todd Phillips & Scot Armstrong, from a story by Court Crandall & Phillips & Armstrong
Cast: Luke Wilson, Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn, Ellen Pompeo, Juliette Lewis, Leah Remini, Jeremy Pivens, & Snoop Dogg




Hilarious! Old School begins with 30 year old, Mitch, (Luke Wilson) a rather bland real estate lawyer who returns home from a conference to quite a surprise from his live-in girlfriend (a cameo by Juliette Lewis). Depressed from his girlfriend’s indiscretions, Mitch gets wildly drunk at the wedding of his best friend, Frank played by the always funny Will Ferrell. There Mitch meets a former grade school crush who is now a divorcee with a young girl. After a quite embarrassing wedding toast, Mitch decides he needs a change in his life and moves into a small brick house on the edge of the city college campus. Mitch and Frank’s fellow best friend Beanie (Vince Vaughn), the owner of an electronics store chain, leads them into a party fest to relive the days of youth and to relieve the burdens of adulthood. When the college principal Pritchard (Jeremy Pivens), a former geek who was routinely bullied by the three has the house re-zoned for college uses only, Beanie decides to form a fraternity to maintain the house. The fraternity includes a 90-year old man, a few middle-aged accountants, high school dropouts and an enormously fat college student. This mix of individuals creates strong material for entertaining jokes. The pledging sequence is especially uproarious. Eventually, Pritchard establishes the upper hand by receiving an order forcing the fraternity to shut down and the house is condemned. The climax of the movie rests in the fraternity proving their worthiness through a series of tests in order to stay a school sanctioned organization.

Will Ferrell has the most material to work with in a movie since Night at the Roxbury and he utilizes every bit of it. Vince Vaughn’s dry humor as the repressed family man adds a needed darkness to get the movie underway. Luke Wilson guides the movie as the sensitive guy who enjoys a period of partying but ultimately desires the adornments of mature adults.

Unfortunately, some of the best jokes in the movie have been revealed in the movie trailers. Fortunately, there are plenty of other jokes that carry throughout the movie. However, Old School could have made better use of its premise. There were a few times when a scene could have been pushed further to take advantage of its comedic moment. Old School (I believe) purposely takes a softer edge on its plot. Instead of pushing the envelope it tends to water down the moment to move onto the next scene setup. This softening creates an enjoyable fun ride in the theater but doesn’t carry it into the next realm of acerbic wit that allows a movie to become a comedy classic. Despite its flaws, Old School will have “New School” audiences cracking up in the aisles. Grade: B.