Old School

(Todd Phillips, USA, 2003)


This film should have been funnier than it is. Its premise is perfectly in tune with the sensibility of arrested adolescence which is at the heart of such notable achievements in trash cinema as Jackass: The Movie (2002).

Old friends Mitch (Luke Wilson), Beanie (Vince Vaughan) and Frank (Will Ferrell) are all on the run from adult relationships. They are weighed down by marital responsibilities, commitments, vows to behave sensibly.

In Mitch's case, he has just discovered that his wife, Heidi (Juliette Lewis in a marvellous cameo), is into porn, threesomes and "Internet buddies".

Serendipitously, the three guys find themselves back in school – or at least, living in student accommodations and partying wildly with the teenage community.

As often in wild-and-crazy comedies of this sort, the women are Hydra-like creatures of fantasy bridging the purest innocence and the dirtiest extravagance.

Plot is not a driving factor here until the fascistic, killjoy Dean Gordon (Jeremy Piven), decides that all members of the new, troublesome fraternity lead by our three heroes must pass all manner of exacting tests.

Old School is directed and co-written by Todd Phillips, whose work here and in Road Trip (2000) did not win him a place in the Cahiers du cinéma pantheon of "100 New American Directors to Watch" alongside Danny Leiner, auteur of the "little burlesque-adolescent-scatological cult film" otherwise known as Dude, Where's My Car? (2000).

© Adrian Martin May 2003

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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