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You'll have to excuse me and some of the other proponents of 'National
Lampoon's Animal House' if we seem a little defensive about the movie.
That's because it's often not recognized as the superior comedy classic
it is. Instead, too often it is lumped in with the multitude of inferior
films that it inspired, which is totally unfair.
Some of the conventional wisdom about 'Animal House' is absolutely right, though. John Belushi does give a bravura performance that is reminiscent of the great comics before him like Chaplin, Keaton (Buster, not Michael), the Marx Brothers, etc., and he does it with a wonderful economy of words. His character of "Bluto" Blutarsky is often emulated and imitated but many times the persons doing so have no idea what it was that made him and his performance so great.
Tim Matheson as "Otter" and his other frat house buddies were also prototypes that were much imitated too, and again often without success. Otter was the quintessential smooth talker, always working an angle on everybody, especially the ladies. When a woman tells him that his lovemaking wasn't that great, he cocks his head, points a finger at himself and mouths the words, "not great?" in mock disbelief. Before Tom Hanks got "Big" he made a career out of playing this character. Also John Vernon set a standard for straight men with his portrayal of the beleaguered Dean Wormer, plagued by his "zoo fraternity."
Not all of the movie's humor aims low, by any means; some of it is quite sophisticated. (Yes, you read it right.) The screenwriters and director John Landis did a great job evoking Kennedy-era America and they found a lot to laugh at. This comedy is an unqualified classic by the simplest definition-- it makes you laugh, long and loud.
you probably don't like teen sex comedies anyway. If you write more than 10 lines about this classic, you are taking it way too seriously. This is the King of Teen Sex Comedies, period. Anything that follows is/was a pretender or copycat. And I'll never understand why someone would spend so much time and space critiquing a film they don't like, from a genre they obviously don't appreciate. Virtually every actor plays his part realistically. I still get a huge kick out of Belushi's speech about the Germans bombing Pearl Harbor. Or "Do you mind if we dance with yo dates? Or "mine is bigger....my cucumber." Lots of classic lines. Just enjoy it!
This is the best college comedy ever made. Nothing has ever come close to comedic perfection, and never will again. The early bird director John Landis directs this film into greatness bringing stars John Belushi, Tim Matheson, Tom Hulce, Mark Metcalf and Donald Sutherland to the screen in brilliance. True, this film is just about a bunch of misfits defying authority in a campus of 1962, but that's what makes it so good, and original. Belushi, Metcalf, and others bring many of the laughs here, but it is mainly it's reputation that brings this film into hilarity. A landmark in cinema comedy. By the way, screenwriters Harold Ramis and Chris Miller originally were going to make this a film about Charles Manson called Laser Orgy Girls, so thank god Douglas Kenney came in and straightened this out to the right part.
If you have only seen this movie on TV, you have not really seen this movie. One of the best movie experiences of my life was seeing this movie in the theater with a full house of college students. I have never heard an audience laugh so hard, and I was laughing with them. That experience can never be recaptured. I don't know why this movie doesn't make the midnight movie tour in college towns. That way it might have some of the same impact. Also when it came out in 1978 it is hard to explain how big John Belushi was unless you were there and saw it first hand. It's still funny on the small screen, but only if you see it uncut. Never watch it on a network, they cut out most of the jokes!
John Landis's directorial debut, and John Belushi's first starring role
this screw-ball comedy about college life in the early 60's a must-see. I
saw this picture for the first time when it was released to theaters and
laughed my buns off; it still holds up today, almost 30 years
Every actor in the show gives a bravura performance, with stand-out debuts by the likes of Thomas Hulce, Tim Matheson, Karen Allen, Bruce Davidson, and others. In addition, there's a sense throughout the picture that we all knew these guys at one time or another in our lives. Shoot, I think I may have BEEN one or two of these guys at some point in my life. Of course, the picture revolves around Belushi's terrifically over-the-top Bluto Blutarsky; but you simply can't ignore characters like Boone, Otter, Niedermeyer, Gregg Marmalade, and my personal favorite, D-Day.
The writing on this picture is really far better than the loosely-structured plot first indicates. Each character is introduced neatly at their entrance; and, by extension, the other characters are set up by the entrances of their surrounding characters. For instance, when we first meet Belushi's character, he's holding a schooner of beer in one hand and drunkenly taking a leak on the Delta Tau Chi lawn. Right away, we know what the rest of these guys are going to be like. Then, when D-Day makes his entrance, driving his hawg through the front door and up the stairs to play the William Tell Overture on his throat before pulling a beer out of his jacket and popping the top, our fears are confirmed. Meanwhile, we get to meet the uptight, repressed, and mildly facsist other frat through similar vignettes. Kevin Bacon is particularly hilarious in his initiation ("Thank you, sir! May I have another?").
John Landis made his debut with this picture, and what a debut it was! His camera follows each of the characters and events at near breakneck speed, giving the audience little time to recover from one laugh before getting slapped in the head with another. Lots of natural lighting, and sharp, steady pacing with smooth transitions keep the story moving. Refreshingly, the film doesn't rely on over-the-top special effects to hold our attention. Then again, is there really any place for SFX in a picture like this?
The whole picture is one long laugh, from beginning to end. If you're a college grad, you'll forget what it was really like to have to work hard, study, and generally bust your tail to graduate. If you haven't yet gone to college, this picture will give you all the wrong ideas. On the other hand, you've gotta see this one, if for no other reason than to learn all the right (and wrong) things to do at a college party.
Every successful movie has its myriad clones and imitators, but none of them
ever come close to what made the original so good.
That's certainly true of "Animal House".
The laughs are all solid, especially when the main focus is in toppling the stoic pillars of decency and normality with a battle cry of "food fight!".
Pledges Pinto (Hulce) and Flounder (Furst) are good soldiers, making us laugh with their desire to fit in at first then, finally, to succumb to the madness and pillage and destroy with the other Deltas, led by Bluto (Belushi), who waylays all in his path.
No subsequent attempt to cash in on the "Animal House" success has ever made good in toppling the once and future king of the mountain. Who has ever come close to creating a creature as lovably destructive as Bluto Blutarsky? What other college movie's dean ever made Dean Wormer seem like an easygoing, laid-back guy? What college movie scene comes close to the introduction of the Deltas? The toga party? The horse in the Dean's office? The road trip? The final parade? The....
Well, space is limited but you get the idea.
Ten stars, and a crushed-beer-can-on-the-forehead salute to all involved with the subversive garbage that is "Animal House".
More power to you.
And remember, knowledge is good.
Tasteless, politically incorrect and absolutely laugh-out loud
hilarious, with a cast that's a Who's Who of later stars, including
Peter Riegert, Tom Hulce, Tim Matheson, Karen Allen, Kevin Bacon, etc.
It's bittersweet watching the brilliance of John Belushi in this, his finest hour. Every twitch of his beady eyes, every jiggle of his mighty beer belly, every line of dialogue delivered with just the right amount of bluster or sneering sarcasm -- this guy was a bona-fide comic genius. He was taken from us far too soon.
Director John Landis orchestrates the escalating hi-jinks with masterful comedic precision, Elmer Bernstein contributes a very funny mock-grandiose score, and veteran character actor John Vernon provides a wonderful arch-villain as the toweringly evil Dean Wormer.
There are almost too many comic highlights; pick your own favorite. My candidates: Bluto's rousing speech about the Germans bombing Pearl Harbor, Pinto's Good & Bad Consciences battling over whether he should take advantage of his passed-out date, and Otter picking up the dean's wife in the supermarket vegetable aisle.
Watch for co-writer Doug Kenney as 'Stork', suspected of brain damage. Another Saturday Night Live alumnus, along with Belushi and Harold Ramis, he died in a hiking accident in Hawaii not too long after the movie's release. Heartfelt thanks to him and Belushi, as well as everyone else involved in this classic, for providing us with so many laughs.
Yep, it must be Animal House!
The classic frat comedy of all time. A simple story of college life for a bunch of delinquents who seek solace with a an endless supply of beer, toga parties and loads of young girls.
It doesn't matter that the Delta House (the home of said delinquents), continually fail to pass their exams, for them sex & booze is all what life is about.
The movie is a perfect vehicle for Saturday Night Live star, John Belushi, who is allowed to show off his considerable talent as the biggest sicko of the Delta bunch - check out his impression of a Zit!!
But he is well supported by Tom Hulce, and surprisingly Donald Sutherland as the hippy professor with wayout theories.
Able actor, John Vernon, plays the Principle of the college and often the butt of the Delta House: finding a horse in his office is a classic piece of farce!
All in all, the film hangs together very well with a good script and superb visual jokes. John Landis must have a wild college life himself when he made this.
This raunchy comedy was a major success at the time of its release
(grossing well over $100 million in theaters alone) and still maintains
a strong cult following on home video. It is the gross-out boys-only
flick that launched a new wave of rude-n'-crude teen comedies, as well
as immortalizing John Belushi as one of America's most beloved comedic
It's the 1960s and the Delta fraternity is in trouble with the Faber College's Dean Wormer (John Vernon) yet again. The frat's crazy antics have gotten out of hand and the grades of its students have been steadily declining. Grabbing at the opportunity, Dean Wormer uses their poor grades and behavior as an excuse to kick them off the campus. However, the Deltas fight back and give it all they've got.
"Animal House" is solely responsible for the surge of teen-styled comedies in the 1980s and '90s. There is no other film predating this, to speak of, which mixed sex, profanity, vulgarity, slapstick and rebellion all into one funny little bundle. "Animal House" truly is a revolutionary comedy, for better or worse. Yet in fact for all its offensive material, "Animal House" is joyously likable, infectious and agreeable. The writers Harold Ramis, Douglas Kenney and Chris Miller create a plethora of strong characters, which helps define and separate "Animal House" from many of its imitators (and indeed compares it to the equally-enjoyable "American Pie" series, which like the "Animal" before it took the time to study and care for its characters, rather than completely exploit them for "humor" it's always harder to laugh at characters we don't care about, and much easier to laugh at those of whom we do).
Director John Landis (who would re-team with Belushi again in 1980 with "The Blues Brothers") not only understands his cast (mainly Belushi) but also his audience and paves a way for sibling genre entries through his realistic slapstick approach (this is not crazy in the same way as Airplane, Naked Gun or Police Academy is in fact it's far more rooted in realism and only a few sequences really get out of hand and turn into classic dumb slapstick).
John Belushi as the alcoholic Bluto Blutarsky (on getting kicked out of college: "Seven years down the drain! I might as well join the Peace Corps!") remains the scene-stealer to this day, yet despite the film's close links with Belushi in general he is just a co-star, and when on-screen rarely speaks (a fact played to the film's comedic advantage when Bluto gives his final rousing speech, it seems to mean something, even if well it doesn't.) Belushi demanded the largest paycheck of all the actors including Donald Sutherland but is hardly the "star" of "Animal House." Had he been, it may very well not have been as successful as it turned out to be not because Bluto is annoying, but because introducing him in smaller portions rather than focusing on him alone constructs a fall-back mechanism of sorts; when the comedy is lagging too much, they bring in Bluto for support.
Bluto thrives on fun and partying when he learns of a possible toga party, he begins a chant. One imagines he's so drunk and stoned he doesn't really understand much of what is going on. The film never identifies with him on a personal level. He's just sort of there. And we get the feeling perhaps he's only involved in the frat's antics because it's a blast does he really care about staying in college? Or does he just want more free booze? "Animal House" might not be the best comedy of all time, and I'm hardly going to start arguing that it is. For one thing, it can tend to be a bit inconsistent the humor is never continuously strong; rather it comes in bursts. Technically, it's imperfect by a long shot. However, whoever said that the amount of laughter alone defines the greatness of a comedy? Do we need it to be fine art? "Animal House" doesn't only have its fair share of funny material and iconic screen moments, but is also incredibly entertaining, rowdy and cool the quintessential college film and certainly the sort of comedy any self-respecting bachelor would make sure he views at least two hundred times a year. (Give or take.) All together, now: "Toga, toga, toga!"
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Animal House draws much of its humor from the oft-visited "slobs versus snobs" well. It is also a movie that pits men vs. women, blacks vs. whites, and the dudely bros of Delta House vs. uncool military martinets (they like to spank each other) and sensitive new-age folk-singers (he sings about having no stone and no bone, get it?) To be a wet blanket about it, and to use words that would definitely get me pantsed and hung upside-down in the dean's office, National Lampoon's comedy fits into the same niche that Saturday Night Live has occupied since the '70s of being extremely white, male, and heteronormative while also being impishly anti-authority. With that said, a lot of the tribalism depicted on screen might actually be pretty accurate when it comes to Greek life, even in the supposedly more enlightened 21st century. While in college in the early years of the millennium I knew dilapidated houses like that and dilapidated people like that. The familiarity makes some of Animal House funny, especially when the Delta House protagonists are as much the subjects of mockery as are their opponents. The figure that most often cuts both ways is Bluto, played by the movie's funniest actor in John Belushi. He's a retrograde caveman, and while he's capable of being almost heroic in the limited milieu of a frat, in any other context he'd qualify as a brain-dead sociopath. That's what makes the final shot of the movie, which reveals his post-college fate, so cuttingly funny. Animal House is sufficiently well-made and has enough laughs to get it into the comedic canon despite its mainstream brand of political incorrectness and a lot of slow and obvious scenes.
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