Animal House (1978) directed by John Landis
I don't really think I enjoyed my college experience. Actually, I'm pretty sure I didn't. I didn't go to parties, join any clubs, pick up girls or make a lot of friends. I was simply too shy, too sheltered, too awkward in social situations. Obviously I was not part of a frat. The worst part of it all was that I didn't study or go to class either. It makes me wonder what I did with all my time. I sort of just wasted my college experience, one of my bigger regrets in my young life. So in many ways I can't relate to Animal House, yet in other ways understand it completely. I've never been to a toga party or pulled stupid pranks, but I do know the pure pleasure of taking nothing seriously and I worked diligently at the art of slacking off. If I had to do it all over again, I don't think I could join the Deltas of Animal House, but I'd be damn sure to at least be friends with one of them.
What is Animal House about? It's hard to really say as there is no real driving point. It's basically about a bunch of slackers and misfits in a fraternity at a college who challenge authority and find themselves in all sorts of trouble. These guys are every parent's nightmare when their kid tells them that they want to join a frat. Yet, are the Deltas really any worse than the Omegas next door? For as immature and crude the Deltas may be, the Omegas are equally repulsive in their pretentiousness and snobbery. Okay I won't get carried away, the Deltas are pretty damn bad, but I wouldn't want to be an Omega either.
Animal House is obviously beyond absurd and at times mildly retarded, but so what? Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy is my favorite comedy ever. If something is funny, it is funny and Animal House is often very funny. However, and I'll probably get slammed for this, it isn't nearly as funny as it makes itself out to be. As funny as John Belushi is as Bluto, there is only so much of his moronic behavior I can take. I have no doubt I would have found this funnier ten years ago and maybe I've grown into a sour grape in my old age, but many of the practical jokes and misadventures are just mean spirited and/or plain obnoxious. The Deltas are the anti-heros of the movie, yet there really aren't many redeeming qualities about them. Take it or leave it, they are exactly as they are portrayed.
Animal House features an ensemble cast, but the obvious star of the movie is Belushi as Bluto, who has outrageous moment after outrageous moment. Whether you find his antics hilarious or tiring, you can't ignore him. Bluto demands your attention because he is that good and, well, you can't wait to see what awful thing he will do next. While his ability to inhale food and liquor at prodigious quantities is impressive, I found more humor in his more subtle moments. The expressions and reactions that Belushi has throughout the movie are priceless. Just watch his manic eyes dart back and forth as he takes a peep through the sorority house window. When a practical joke involving a horse goes wrong, he has a bewildered look on his face and simply repeats, "Oh shit!" over and over. Perhaps his most memorable line comes after finding out he (along with the rest of the Deltas) have been expelled, where he simply comments defeatedly, "Seven years down the drain."
Clearly Bluto was a guy who knew how to have fun and make the most (in his own ways at least) out of his college experience. I kind of wish I knew a guy like him when I was in college, but at the same time kind of thankful that I didn't.