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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.

Three friends attempt to recapture their glory days by opening up a fraternity near their alma mater.

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

Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 92 min.
Price: $14.98
Release Date: 12/16/2008

• Audio Commentary with Director/Co-Writer Todd Phillips, Actors Will Ferrell, Luke Wilson, and Vince Vaughn
• “From the Cutting Room Floor” Deleted Scenes
• “Old School Orientation” Featurette
• “Inside the Actors Studio” Spoof
• Outtakes and Bloopers
• TV Spots and Trailers
• Easter Eggs


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Old School [Blu-Ray] (2003)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 6, 2015)

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 located on a college campus.

This excites his buddy Beanie (Vince Vaughn), a married father who misses his old bachelor life and he 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 this, 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 in a long series of unfunny, tacky college comedies without one crucial component: the fact that it 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 of a plot on which to hang your hat. Old School prefers story threads to an actual overall narrative. We get minor themes for each of the characters, none of which really goes much of anywhere. These arcs allow 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. Vaughn and Ferrell play typical characters for their styles. 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, as 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 like it, but I don’t know it it’s really that funny. At the very worst, it’s a fun romp that offers an entertaining 90 minutes of action.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture C+/ Audio B-/ Bonus B-

Old School appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This wasn’t a bad presentation, but it seemed dated and bland.

Sharpness appeared average. Close-ups demonstrated fairly good delineation, but wider shots could be somewhat tentative. Edge haloes exacerbated the issue; these stayed minor but they created light distractions. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I saw no print flaws. I thought the movie appeared to use a bit too much digital noise reduction, though, as it seemed a little too “scrubbed” and lifeless.

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. While the movie remained watchable, it lacked much pep and seemed like a mediocre transfer.

As for the film’s Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack, 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.

How does the Blu-ray compare to the original DVD? Audio was a bit peppier and livelier, while visuals seemed somewhat more dynamic and detailed. The Blu-ray could’ve been more appealing, but it still upgraded the DVD.

The Blu-ray duplicates the DVD’s extras, and 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 19 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 two 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 13-minute and 39-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. We also find three TV Spots and one trailer.

The disc also comes with a mix of Easter Eggs. From the “Extras” menu, click right on “Orientation” to get all of Snoop Dogg’s party performance (2:06). From the “Extras” screen, click up to highlight a mug of beer; hit enter to see a deleted scene with a drunk and upset Frank (1:55). I don’t know why this one didn’t make “From the Cutting Room Floor”.

Not long after its theatrical release, Old School became 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 Blu-ray offers fairly average picture and audio along with a mostly interesting set of supplements. This never turns into a great release, but it serves the movie in a reasonable fashion.

To rate this film, visit the DVD review of OLD SCHOOL

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