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Todd Phillips
Luke Wilson, Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn, Jeremy Piven, Ellen Pompeo, Juliette Lewis, Leah Remini, Craig Kilborn, Elisha Cuthbert, Seann William Scott
Writing Credits:
Court Crandall (story), Todd Phillips (and story), Scot Armstrong (and story)

All the fun of college, none of the education.

What's a guy supposed to do when he catches the early flight home and finds his girlfriend in bed with a room full of naked strangers? Return to college and start a fraternity! Before you can say wild and wet wrestling, Frank "The Tank" (Will Ferrell); Mitch (Luke Wilson) and Beanie (Vince Vaughn) have their own frat raging with out-of-control antics. But when things get too wild, the dean sets out to shut them down. The laughs are top of the class (even if the guys aren't!) in the hit comedy from director Todd Phillips (Road Trip).

Box Office:
$24 million.
Opening Weekend
$17.453 million on 2689 screens.
Domestic Gross
$74.608 million.

Rated NR

Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English DTS 5.1
English Dolby Surround 2.0
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 92 min.
Price: $14.99
Release Date: 6/10/2003

• Audio Commentary with Director/Co-Writer Todd Phillips, Actors Will Ferrell, Luke Wilson, and Vince Vaughn
• “From the Cutting Room Floor” Deleted Scenes 13:15
• “Old School Orientation” Featurette 13:03
• “Inside the Actors Studio” Spoof 21:26
• Outtakes and Bloopers 5:04
• TV Spots and Trailers
• Sneak Peeks
• Photo Gallery
• Cast & Filmmakers
• Production Notes
• Easter Eggs


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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Old School: Unrated & Out Of Control (2003)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 26, 2007)

Put 2003’s Old School at the top of the list when you consider the new millennium’s first comedy cult smashes. It earned a pretty solid $74 million at the box office and proved even more successful on DVD. Whether it’ll endure as a long-term classic remains to be seen, but it’s off to a good start.

Mitch (Luke Wilson) rushes home from a business trip to surprise his girlfriend Heidi (Juliette Lewis). And surprise her he does, as he catches her in the midst of a gangbang. This ends the relationship and Mitch moves into a new house right on a college campus.

This excites his buddy Beanie (Vince Vaughn), a married father who misses his old bachelor life and hopes to use Mitch’s new digs as an outlet. Newly married Frank (Will Ferrell) goes along with his buddies, though he doesn’t seem to feel so sure that he should play without permission from his wife Marissa (Perrey Reeves). She worries that his old out of control “Frank the Tank” personality will return if he starts to drink again.

That happens, and Marissa catches him in Tank mode when he streaks through campus. This sends them to counseling, but that’s not the only problem faced by the guys. Gordon Pritchard (Jeremy Piven) is dean of the college, and he used to be the victim of the guys’ pranks and abuse back in their younger days. To get back at them, he has Mitch’s house rezoned to be reserved for university use alone.

To get around that, Beanie comes up with a clever idea. He decides to launch a new fraternity and use the house for the pledges. This’ll meet university rules and allow the guys to continue to party. The movie follows their misadventures as they try to be young again, thwart Pritchard’s attempts to spoil their fun and deal with other life issues.

Old School easily could have become one is a long series of unfunny, tacky college comedies without one crucial component: the fact that it actually features a ton of talent behind it. Really, the flick should stink. After all, its story does little more than offer a twist on the Animal House template. Throw in other inspirations like Revenge of the Nerds and Billy Madison to make Old School often seem like it should be a derivative clunker.

To be sure, you won’t find much story on which to hang your hat. Old School prefers story threads to an actual overall plot. We get minor themes for each of the characters, none of which really goes much of anywhere. The arcs entertained by each of the three leads allows the movie to add a little depth and pretend that it wants to make a point, but those elements sputter and feel incomplete.

I can understand why the filmmakers want to show the characters in flux, and in some ways, they succeed. At least our three protagonists feel like real guys in their cartoony way; they beat the miserable whiners of The Last Kiss, another flick that attempts to deal with guys who shift into real adulthood. That film came packed with selfish misanthropes, whereas the men of Old School show enough life to let us identify with them.

But don’t take that to mean they come across as true three-dimensional personalities. At times Old School suffers because of its pretensions. It doesn’t pull off the depth necessary to make us get into it as a character drama, and its stabs in those areas come across as clumsy and half-hearted.

That’s because it doesn’t really want to be about maturity – and we don’t want it to be about that, either. We want a modern version of Animal House, and when Old School goes down that path, it succeeds. It’s amazing to think how far Vaughn and Ferrell have come in the four years since Old School hit the screens. At that time, Wilson was the biggest name in the cast, whereas now he’s more commonly thought of as “the other Wilson” after more successful brother Owen.

Vaughn and Ferrell have established themselves as serious box office draws, and Old School shows them in typical characters. Ferrell is sloppy and goofy while Vaughn offers his patented fast-talking shtick. Neither stretches his talents, but both make their characters funny and endearing.

Wilson does well, too, so don’t take my earlier comments as an insult to him. Really, he grounds the flick, especially since he gets the most screen time. Mitch never quite turns into a full-fledged character, but he comes much closer than the others. Wilson gives us his usual nice guy routine and allows the role to fare nicely.

Does Old School deserve its growing status as a comedy classic? I’m not sure about that – I liked it, but I don’t know it it’s really that funny. However, this was my first screening of it, so I need to give it time to grow on me. At the very worst, it’s a fun romp that offers an entertaining 90 minutes of action.

The DVD Grades: Picture B-/ Audio B-/ Bonus B-

Old School appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The movie featured a decent transfer but not one that excelled.

Some of the issues connected to sharpness. Although the majority of the flick appeared concise and well-defined, some light edge enhancement meant parts of it lacked the expected clarity. Though infrequent, these sequences caused a few distractions. I noticed no shimmering or jagged edges, though, and source flaws were negligible. Other than some mild grain and a few specks, this was a clean presentation.

Colors were inconsistent. Though most of the movie presented lively and dynamic hues, occasionally the tones came across as somewhat messy and runny. Interiors tended to look the worst in that regard, as other sequences provided more precise colors. Blacks were dark and tight, but shadows could be a little murky. Overall, this mix of concerns knocked my grade down to a “B-“.

While the audio of Old School suffered from no overt flaws, its decided lack of scope left it with another “B-“. The DVD included both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 soundtracks. For a light comedy like this, I thought the DTS option was unnecessary, as the two mixes sounded virtually identical to me.

Audio quality worked fine. Speech was always natural and crisp, with no edginess or other problems. Music sounded bright and lively, and effects offered good clarity. A few louder sequences also presented solid bass response.

Don’t expect much from the soundfield, though. The material stayed strongly focused on the forward channels and rarely ventured beyond the realm of general ambience. A smattering of scenes such as Frank’s tranquilizer fantasy opened up the surrounds well, but those were rare. This was a competent track but not one that did much.

When we head to the set’s supplements, we open with an audio commentary from director/co-writer Todd Phillips and actors Will Ferrell, Luke Wilson, and Vince Vaughn. All four sit together for this running, screen-specific chat. The track looks at performances and improvisation, cast and characters, sets, and some general production notes.

Frankly, it’s hard to think of many interesting details. I enjoy the goofing around about “Kevin and Shorty”, Wilson’s nicknames for his eyes. We also learn that much of the film intends to parallel Fight Club.

But otherwise, the piece is a dud. With all these entertaining guys, shouldn’t this commentary have been a blast? Unfortunately, they seem rather low-key and don’t make the track very interesting. We get the occasional chuckle but not much else. If the piece included good information, then I wouldn’t mind the lack of entertainment value. Since we learn little about the production, this doesn’t occur. Instead, we find a lot of praise and more than a few dead spots. This is a fairly dull and disappointing commentary.

Eight deleted scenes appear under the banner From the Cutting Room Floor. All together, these run a total of 13 minutes and 15 seconds. Quite a few good bits pop up here. We learn that Mitch planned to propose to Heidi, and we see concerns about his sexual tryst with a teen. Beanie gets some extra screen time as we see more of his family issues. There’s also an inspirational scene that’ll remind many of the “it’s not over” seen from Animal House. There’s a lot of amusing material in this nice collection of sequences.

A featurette entitled Old School Orientation goes for 13 minutes and three seconds. We get movie clips, shots from the set, and comments from Wilson, Ferrell, Vaughn, Phillips, co-writer Scot Armstrong, executive producer Ivan Reitman, producer Dan Goldberg and actors Juliette Lewis, Leah Remini, Andy Dick, Ellen Pompeo, Craig Kilborn, Snoop Dogg, Jeremy Piven, Matt Walsh, and Artie Lange. “Orientation” offers a recap of story/characters anf throws out a couple production basics. Don’t expect any substance, though, as this is a glorified trailer with little real content.

Next comes a spoof of Inside the Actors Studio. In this 21-minute and 26-second piece, Ferrell reprises his old SNL impersonation of James Lipton to interview Vaughn, Wilson, Phillips and himself. As expected, the emphasis is on goofiness here and not actual information,. The result is as amusing as one would hope, and it’s a fun piece to watch.

A collection of Outtakes and Bloopers fills five minutes and four seconds. With the cast we find for Old School, I hoped for better than average material here. Indeed, some funny stuff pops up in this compilation, and it’s worth a look.

A few minor elements fill out the package. We find three TV Spots and one trailer. The Sneak Peeks area includes promos for Biker Boyz, The Fast and the Furious, and Head of State.

A Photo Gallery presents 96 pictures. These mix images from the flick and from the set. Cast offers decent text biographies of actors Luke Wilson, Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn, Ellen Pompeo, Juliette Lewis, Leah Remini, Perrey Reeves, Craig Kilborn, Jeremy Piven, Elisha Cuthbert and Snoop Dogg. Filmmakers then gives us similar entries for director Todd Phillips, executive producers Ivan Reitman and Tom Pollock, producers Daniel Goldberg and Joe Medjuck, screenwriter Scot Armstrong, co-producer/unit production manager Paul Deason, director of photography Mark Irwin, production designer Clark Hunter, editor Michael Jablow, costume designer Nancy Fisher, and composer Theodore Shapiro. More text appears under the Production Notes banner. These notes give us a nice synopsis of the flick and its creation.

The disc also comes with a mix of Easter Eggs. From the main menu, click on “Live Music” to get all of Snoop Dogg’s party performance. From the “Set-Up” screen, click on “Ask Frank” for a 115-second deleted scene. I don’t know why this one didn’t make “From the Cutting Room Floor”.

A mere four years after its theatrical release, Old School has become an acknowledged cult classic for the 21st century. Whether I’ll ever really love the flick remains to be seen, but after one screening, I can say that it has more than enough funny moments to make it worthwhile. The DVD presents decent picture and audio along with a smattering of decent extras, though its commentary disappoints. Nonetheless, this is a fun movie and a DVD I recommend, especially since I expect it’ll hold up well through repeated viewings.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.2 Stars Number of Votes: 15
4 3:
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