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Director: John Landis
Cast: John Belushi, Tim Matheson, Thomas Hulce, Peter Riegert, Stephen Furst, John Vernon, Kevin Bacon
Screenplay: Douglas Kenney and Harold Ramis

Tagline: It was the Deltas against the rules... the rules lost!
MPAA: Rated R

Presentation: Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
Audio: English Digital Mono, Spanish & French Digital Mono
Subtitles: Spanish, French; Closed-captioned

Runtime: 109 min.
Price: $34.98
Release Date: 10/13/1998

• Production Notes
• Theatrical Trailer
• "The Yearbook - An Animal House Reunion"


Music soundtrack

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National Lampoon's Animal House (1978)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson

What were fraternity parties like before Animal House came out in 1978? I attended college in the mid to late 1980's, and inevitably these parties incorporated many aspects of the shindigs featured in the film: songs like "Shout," togas, etc. A decade later, I suspect that if I dropped in on a fraternity today, I'd see many of the same things happening.

Animal House's influence was also felt elsewhere. For better or for worse, this film popularized the rowdy over the top comedy. Films such as Caddyshack, Stripes, and Porky's are just a few of the many that owe a debt to this film.

Despite its status as a true classic, I have to admit that I really don't think Animal House is all that great. Maybe it's because so many films been influenced by it through the years, and some have done it better. Maybe it's just me; clearly many people are quite fond of this film, and I can't find any real reason to fault that sentiment.

To say the least, the humor in Animal House is broad. It's the kind of film that will do anything to elicit a laugh. Just like an attention-starved child who will make multiple attempts to provoke your attention, Animal House tosses out any idea it can grasp and hopes to make you smile.

To a good degree, it succeeds. It's a funny film, but it's not one you'll need to ponder to enjoy. It's the kind of movie you watch when you just want to wind down at night and you want something amusing and unchallenging.

The DVD Grades: Picture C+ / Audio C / Bonus B

As far as this DVD goes, it's the best home video presentation of Animal House to date in any format, but that's not saying much. A prior DVD (and all laserdisc and VHS versions) featured uninspired pan and scan transfers. The Animal House Collector's Edition DVD only features a 1.85:1 transfer, so the difference between this version and the full-screen copies isn't extreme, but it's nonetheless nice to have.

Quality-wise, the picture on Animal House looks about as good as it can. It's a very unexceptional image, but considering the age of the film and its low-budget origins, I can't find fault. I thought the picture looked clean and reasonably free of grain or other obvious problems. Clearly you won't use this DVD to show off your new 800-inch TV, but it does what it can.

The sound mix of Animal House also is probably about as good as it could be. It's mono, and there simply isn't much you can do with that, especially when the film in question is so old and so cheaply made. The sound often has a tinny, "canned" tone, although it's reasonably clean. Again, I don't fault the producers of this DVD for these problems; the deficits seem to lie within the source material.

One area in which I do fault those behind the Animal House Collector's Edition is its supplemental materials. The bonus features are not up to the standards Universal had previously set for their Collector's (aka "Signature") editions. The package includes a fairly interesting but too brief (45 minutes) documentary about the creation of the film. It's entertaining but limited in scope. Thankfully, most living cast members are included in the new interviews featured; the only significant actors not to be found are Donald Sutherland and Tom Hulce. (I must admit that I'm quite curious to know why they didn't participate). Surprisingly, Kevin Bacon provides the most entertaining anecdotes about the production; his role in the film may have been minor, but he delivers the goods in the documentary.

Other than that, the Animal House CE offers little in the way of supplements. You get a trailer, some fairly interesting (though again brief) production notes, and the usual cast and crew biographies. No deleted scenes? No audio commentary? For a DVD with a $35 MSRP? That's an awfully pricey package, especially when you consider how many much less expensive DVDs provide more content.

The Animal House Collector's Edition makes for a decent DVD. While it provides the best-yet production of the film on home video, the poor quality of the original film makes the video's gains limited, and the smattering of interesting supplemental materials do not justify the relatively high price tag. Ultimately, the word that best describes this DVD is "disappointing." You won't feel bitter or ripped-off if you get it, but you may feel some disappointment that the package did not take more full advantage of the medium.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.2903 Stars Number of Votes: 62
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