For people of a certain age, Old School represents the quintessential University/College film. Like Animal House before it, Todd Phillips’ comedy masterpiece engrossed a generation who watched it religiously and it thus it took its place in the canon of great comedies. Being released so close to Will Ferrell’s magnum opus, Anchorman, Old School can often be overlooked in countdowns of the best comedies of all time, but it remains, for those that have seen it, a true modern classic in the sublime and the ridiculous.
Mitch Martin (Luke Wilson) travels home early from a business trip to discover his wife having an affair with two people. Distraught and dejected he turns to his friends Beanie (Vince Vaughn) and newly-married Frank (Ferrell) for help. They decide to setup their own fraternity house on the outskirts of a local campus and invite a host of unusual people to join. The Dean of College Gordon Pritchard (Jeremy Piven) has other plans however and will stop at nothing to shut them down in retaliation for the bullying he suffered at the hands of the trio earlier in his life.
Many comedies live and die on their innate ˜rewatchability,’ and it is here that Old School excels having more than enough simple, to-the-point quotable lines to keep you coming back time and time again. Many of these quotes, such as You’re my boy blue, once it hits your lips it tastes so good and we’re streaking through the quad to the gymnasium are as recognisable today as anything that Anchorman, the other great quoted comedy, have to offer.
Like all great comedies, the action and humour relies not only on the more crazy characters, but on the strength of the central ˜straight man.’ In Mitch Martin, Old School has its grounding influence. Experiencing the events that unfold in the same way as a member of the audience would gives freedom to people like ˜Frank the Tank’ and Beanie to carry them along on a manic adventure.
The plot is simplistic and toward the end it loses its way, but the characters represent high points in the careers of Vaughn and Ferrell, who would find it difficult to recreate such memorable characters later in their careers. Old School is Animal House for the 2000s generation and you’ll never sing ˜Total Eclipse of the Heart’ again without the line I fucking need you more, than ever!