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Animal House

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Animal House

Starring: John Belushi, Tim Matheson
Director: John Landis
Rated: R
RunTime: 108 Minutes
Release Date: June 1978
Genre: Comedy

*Also starring: Peter Riegert, Karen Allen, Stephen Furst, Donald Sutherland, John Vernon, Verna Bloom, Tom Hulce, Kevin Bacon

Review by Dragan Antulov
3 stars out of 4

One of the things that differentiates the author of this review from most of the world's film critics is the opinion of John Landis. Many of Landis' films, often lauded by critics, were disappointments for me. That is especially the case in the latter part of his career, and it is hard to imagine why and how this author reached a cult status. But, earlier, while he was starting his cinema career in 1970s, he used to make quite nice films. One of the most legendary ones is ANIMAL HOUSE, 1978 comedy that was overshadowed by his greatest success - BLUES BROTHERS, shot two years later.

This film actually doesn't have a lot of plot. It is set in fictional Faber college in 1962 and chronicles the struggle between two student fraternities - Omegas, nice, by-the-book, rich, arrogant and powerful students, and Deltas, nonconformist losers who, instead of studying, spend all their time for alcohol, drugs, sex and different kinds of orgies. Their activity become the thorn in the side of the college administration who decide to kick them all out. But the brave Deltas would refuse to give up without a fight, that would culminate in the apocalyptic parade in the end.

Some may think that ANIMAL HOUSE represents sorts of autobiography for its writer Chris Miller, who based the plot on his own experiences as Darthmouth College student in 1962. Others may argue that Landis in this film, by portraying the rivalry between Omegas and Deltas, gives his own commentary about the great struggle between the forces of Old and New in 1960s America. But the real motive for ANIMAL HOUSE was most likely nothing more but the excuse for entire series of jokes, many of them so tasteless that they really questioned the standards of its, rather liberal, times. Yes, some of these jokes are rather tasteless, many of them including Bluto (brilliantly played by late John Belushi) and his repetitive use of bodily fluids becomes boring after a while. Some other jokes also aren't so funny. But guess what? Film as a whole works as an excellent guilty pleasure - made without any redeeming values nor high artistic standards, but film that makes other, more noble and ambitious works, to pale in comparison simply by entertaining viewers. Most of the jokes are funny, characters are well- played by excellent actors (Donald Sutherland, John Vernon, young Kevin Bacon among others), and the soundtrack is very good. The only real reason to bash ANIMAL HOUSE is the fact that it spawned entire sub-genre of its imitations in the decade to come - movies with the words "soft", "hard" and "body" in title, all of them sharing its low standards, but not the talent of its creators. But we shouldn't be too harsh towards ANIMAL HOUSE - today, same as two decades ago, it serves its purpose by entertaining us.

Copyright 1999 Dragan Antulov

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