Rated R - Running Time: 1:30 - Released 2/21/03

With Will Ferrell’s departure last season from Saturday Night Live, I guess we’ll be seeing even more of him on the big screen—the question is, is that a good thing? I regard Ferrell as one of the most talented, versatile, and just plain funny performers ever to be on SNL, but that doesn’t mean his movies will be anything special if he doesn’t start showing some more discretion when choosing his scripts. Most of Ferrell’s previous outings, like Zoolander, The Ladies’ Man, and Superstar, have been marginally-funny-at-best comedies which featured him as a supporting player (with the exception of his co-starring role in the abysmal A Night At The Roxbury), and that’s what he’s doing here, playing the fool with pals Luke Wilson and Vince Vaughn. Together they make up a trio of middle-aged friends who, when they can’t make their “serious” lives work (i.e., marriage, family, career, commitment), resort to starting their own fraternity so they can re-live those fun, carefree, and alcohol-soaked days of college.

Frank (Ferrell) knows he’s in trouble at his wedding when his bitter, married groomsman “Beanie” (Vaughn) keeps telling him, “She’s coming up the aisle—this is your last chance to get out.” Although Frank is devoted to his bride Marissa (Perrey Reeves), her agreement to marry him is based on his promise to lay off the alcohol, his previous abuse of which earned him the college nickname “Frank The Tank.” Meanwhile, his best man Mitch (Wilson) is perfectly happy with his live-in girlfriend (Juliette Lewis) until he discovers that she not only has sex outside their relationship, but hosts regular gangbangs at their home while he’s at work. Disillusioned, he moves out and into a house owned by a recently deceased professor from the local institution of higher learning, Harrison University. This results in a full-blown housewarming party thrown by Beanie, which results in Frank’s falling off the wagon, which results in Marissa kicking him out.

But their totally awesome keg party draws over 100 people, including Mitch’s old school friend and former crush Nicole (Ellen Pompeo), who is now a single mom engaged to a first-class jerk played by Craig Kilborn, and even features a special live appearance by Snoop Dogg. Unfortunately, it also attracts the attention of Harrison’s geeky dean (Jeremy Piven), the guys’ grudge-holding ex-classmate/prank victim, who immediately has the house re-zoned for college use only. Though he thinks this will force Mitch and friends to move out, they decide to form a college fraternity, so they can be in compliance with the new regulation while engaging in numerous ill-advised shenanigans with a pack of fun-loving, masochistic freshmen. Meanwhile, Mitch keeps trying to convince Nicole that he’s not doing what he’s doing, he hasn’t done what he’s done, and he isn’t what he is.

Written by Court Crandall, Todd Phillips, and Scot Armstrong, and directed by Phillips, Old School is the trashiest of trashy frat-boy flicks—a kind of low-rent, 20-years-later version of Animal House—but the presence of Ferrell keeps it from being a total waste. It’s one of those films where the scenes you see on the TV commercials (almost all of them featuring Ferrell) are the funniest scenes in the film, so when they come up, you know it’s time to laugh even though you’ve already seen the bit a million times. Wilson and Vaughn are obviously just going through the motions; they have bills to pay and this is how you do it. Still, there is enough of Ferrell’s antics to make you laugh out loud at least a couple of times, so if that’s enough to make you spend 8 bucks now instead of waiting two months to rent the DVD, knock yourself out. **

Copyright 2003 by John R. McEwen and The Republican

Current | Archives | Oscars | About | E-Mail