Old School

Posted on February 20, 2003 at 6:37 pm

B
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
Profanity: Very strong frat-house language
Alcohol/ Drugs: Drinking as male bonding, including drinking to excess
Violence/ Scariness: None
Diversity Issues: Diverse characters very loyal and supportive
Date Released to Theaters: 2003

After a long, long series of gross-out slob would-be comedies that thought it was enough to be disgusting, it is a relief if not always a pleasure to see one that has some very funny moments. Yes, it is morally bankrupt and completely politically incorrect. But what can I say, I laughed.

Think of “Old School” as the reunion of the gang from Animal House and Revenge of the Nerds. Three 30-year-old men, feeling squashed by responsibilities (represented by women), end up turning a house into a fraternity with all of the fun of torturing pledges, throwing wild parties, and essentially relinquishing all trappings of civilization.

In even the best of this genre, there is about a five-to-one joke ratio of failures to successes. It really isn’t very funny when a character finds out after the fact that the young lady he had sex with while drunk was not just a high school student, but the daughter of his boss; when a character calls out “earmuffs” to his six year old son so that the boy will cover his ears when his father is about to use bad language; when a character’s wife asks for a divorce just weeks after their marriage; or when an elderly character is so struck by the sight of slicked-up topless girls waiting to wrestle him that he keels over dead. But over and over, Will Farrell and Vince Vaughn throw themselves so completely into the material that they make it work much more often than it deserves.

Parents should know that this movie has a great deal of very mature and sometimes offensive material. There are homophobic references, a stereotyped Jewish character (wearing a “chai” necklace) shows up for group sex, characters drink to excess, and have casual sex. There are references to group sex and to other activities like wrestling with topless girls covered in KY jelly. There is a “fun” blow-up doll. A group of women hire a man to teach them how to give oral sex and we see them practicing on vegetables. The fraternity is welcoming to men of all races and ages and — aside from some hazing of the pledges — the men are all very supportive of each other. One character who seems most bent on abandoning all rules turns down sex with a young women because he will not cheat on his wife.

Families who see this movie should talk about whether people need to feel that their responsibilities are suffocating when they become adults.

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy Animal House, Revenge of the Nerds, and a more serious treatment of some of these themes, Lord of the Flies.

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