Are You With Us?: Old School
By Ryan Mazie
February 25, 2013
I love being in college. So do many others. This explains why it is no wonder that filmmakers want to try to capture the college party scene and put it on celluloid. However, why would students want to pay $10 to see a movie showing the experience when they can pay $5 for a red solo cup at a party and live the fun themselves? That’s when the idea of “high-concept” comes into play, taking the parties shown on film to extraordinary heights where SWAT teams are called in and houses are burned down to the ground. The makers of this weekend’s 21 and Over are trying to convince students to see their crazy party film (although I am - and I hope you are too - holding out for the crazy and sexy looking Spring Breakers), much like Warner Brothers made a profit with last year’s Project X. However, jumping a decade back to the last weekend of February, another college party comedy hit screens – Old School.
I remember seeing Old School before and laughing non-stop. A TV movie staple and a DVD that seems to be in most people’s collections, it has been quite some time since I last saw the comedy.
And what a difference “quite some time” can make.
Maybe it was because I knew the plot and therefore some of the best jokes ahead of time, but unlike the countless repeat views I get from some comedies, Old School just did not make me laugh as much this go-around.
One of the earlier Frat Pack films, Old School has the unique twist on the stale genre by having the leads be a decade-some years older than the usual college student. While not much of a game changer, it is enough of a differentiator to set the film apart.
Before the movie becomes a funny exercise in reckless behavior, all of the characters have some sort of stability and responsibility in their lives, whether it is a wife, child, long-term girlfriend, and/or successful career.
Stability comes to a sudden halt for Mitch (Luke Wilson), whose life gets uprooted by his unfaithful girlfriend, causing him to move into a new house centered in a college community. But after an ordinance makes the house a part of college property, Mitch is left with no choice but to take his friends (Will Ferrell and Vince Vaughn) up on their zany idea to turn his home into a fraternity open to anyone in order to stay.
For such a flimsy plot, you have to give credit to the three scriptwriters for adding in the line, “they found a loophole in the paperwork,” to make the incredulous idea palatable.
The problem I have with Old School this time around is that I just did not find as many laughs when there was not a set piece. The wedding scene with the curse-word dropping singers still makes me laugh way longer than it should, Mitch-A-Palooza is an excellent example of controlled comedic chaos, and the fraternity initiation events are all highlights. However, the scenes that interconnect the big moments lack any sort of energy. This is mainly due to the thin depth of the characters.