Old School
Grade: B
Year: 2003
Director: Todd Phillips
Writer: Court Crandall
Genre: Comedy
Rated: R

What a ridiculous movie "Old School" is. The events that take place are such that they could never happen in real life. They are less believable than Martin Lawrence's character being awarded an LA badge in the atrocious "National Security." But as I left the theater having just watched additional skits (just as goofy) that accompany the ending credits, I felt surprisingly satisfied.

"Old School" is a stupid movie, but it doesn't try to be smart. Instead of disguising all of its clichés, this movie exploits them. It makes fun of itself, and it does it well. I probably laughed the least out of everyone at the advance screening, and yet I can still say I enjoyed it. That's a testament to how much more fun people had because unlike myself, they weren't trying to be a critic.

The movie has essentially three main characters, all of whom are middle-aged and are going through some type of midlife crisis. Mitch (Luke Wilson) has just split-up with his girlfriend after discovering her abnormal sexual practices, Frank (Will Ferrell) just got married although unsure if he's in the right relationship, and Beanie (Vince Vaughn) would rather forget about his wife and kids altogether.

After Mitch breaks up with his girlfriend, his buddies help him move into a new house that is located practically on the border of a major university. But a problem arises when the Dean (Jeremy Piven) shows up. Here is our first cliché (that I caught) out of many in the movie. The guys instantly recognize the dean as their old high school classmate who was often the victim of their pranks. Like in many movies, their bullying has caught up to them now that the school nerd is now an uptight prick in power. But "Old School" takes the clichés for a ride. Remember, cars never just crash, they explode. Deans aren't just cruel, they're down-right evil.

The dean tells Mich that he can't live in the house because he isn't affiliated with the school. But before Mich calls the quits, Beanie comes up with the brilliant idea to start a fraternity. Now you might immediately shout out, "Nonsense! They're not even students at the college!" No they're not, but thankfully, the movie doesn't try to explain, it only states that there are loopholes in the rulebook that temporarily allow the fraternity to live on. (Qwipster is convinced that Court Crandall (writer) doesn't understand university policies.)

The story has two goals. 1-Keep the dean at a distance and find a way to become a permanent and legitimate fraternity, so Mich doesn't get kicked out of his house. 2-Recruit a bunch of pledges and get the fraternity rolling. The pledges aren't your typical frat type. The most normal one called Spanish (Rick Gonzalez). Then you have 80-year-old Blue, a middle-aged Chinese man, and a fat black kid.

One must relax to enjoy "Old School." Take it from me, I've disliked almost all of this year's comedies, but there is a flare to this one that had me laughing to tears at one scene near the end. I advise you to…no, I'm telling you to dismiss the many reviews that have slammed "Old School" for it's unoriginal plot. Anyone who thinks that; sadly I must say, doesn't understand the movie.

I'm writing this review nearly two weeks before "Old School's" release date, so there are few reviews of the movie out there. Jim Pappas of "Trades" gives it a 'D' yet the first line in his review states, "Despite some moments that are hilarious…." No movie that has hilarious moments deserves a 'D' rating. What was Jim expecting from a Todd Phillips (Road Trip) movie?

Will Ferrell is even more hilarious in his post-Saturday Night Live days, and it's not because he has the R-rated freedoms that restricted him at NBC. Yes, Ferrell's character is nude for an extended period during a frat party scene, but he truly shines and steals the show at every opportunity, even with his clothes on. You can count on Ferrell being around for awhile, whether you like the guy or not.

Look for cameos by Snoop Dog, Andy Dick, and a personal favorite of mine, James Carville, as if the movie isn't crazy enough. Some other high-grade actors have minor roles such as Ellen Pompeo ("Moonlight Mile") and Leah Remini (CBS' "The King of Queens"), but they don't interfere at all with the main characters.

Frank is obviously the best character, but the other two hold their water (or beer, in this case). Beanie is a miserably depressed father who asks, "you guys don't think I'm here to be surrounded by 19-year old girls, do you?" Everywhere he goes, he brings his 5-year-old son as a reminder to the audience that he is an unfortunate family-man. Whenever he has the need to curse or say something inappropriate, all he has to do is command his son with the word "earmuffs," and his kid covers his ears. Mich, as you know, has just broken up with his girlfriend and is looking to start a new life. He's a lawyer, and has to avoid his peers at work, because everyone wants to join the fraternity.

"Old School" is an absolute must-see for Will Ferrell fans, as well as anyone who is tired of the below-average comedies we've been dished out so far this year, unless you can wait for this year's "My Big Fat Greek Wedding." I promise that you'll have a good time if you allow yourself to do so. I also take this opportunity to prove a point to all the negative e-mails I received for giving out a lot of D's (A Guy Thing, Kangaroo Jack, Final Destination 2, How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Biker Boyz). Yes I enjoy movies, but only the good ones. "Old School" barely makes it, but it is definitely worth your time if you just want to laugh.

I'll end this review with a note from one of the better segments in "Old School." In order to keep the fraternity, all of the pledges must pass a series of tests in the subjects of debate, academics, athletics, and school spirit. Expect a hilarious grand finale shot in slow motion; involving rhythmic dancing, gymnastics, cheerleading, and a dive through a ring of fire, while dramatic and inspirational music play in the background.

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