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Old School

For the latest film by the creative team that last brought us Road Trip,the name Old School has a double meaning. It's meant to sum up the theme of the story of three grown men returning to their college partying. But it also reflects the genre of the film that we've seen a million times before.

If you haven't seen Old School yet, then you've probably seen an almost identical film with a different name. Back to School, Real Genius, Van Wilder, P.C.U., Up the Academy and Revenge of the Nerds all borrow from the same basic premise established in Animal House with the same litany of jokes. Unfortunately Old School, while entertaining at times, doesn't bring anything new to the genre.

Luke Wilson plays Mitch, a man that finds himself single again after his wife (Juliette Lewis) leaves him for kinkier pastures. After Mitch moves into a house near a college campus, his best friend Beanie (Vince Vaughn) realizes this is an opportunity to be swaddled in college girls and decides to begin throwing weekly parties. Will Ferrell plays Frank, their old college friend that has recently gotten married and is struggling with the idea of settling down.

After the first big party, Mitch and Beanie are visited by the cliché character of the uptight school dean, Dean Pritchert. In an ironic bit of casting, the dean is played by Jeremy Piven, who played the role of the frat leader in the college comedy P.C.U.

Pritchert, who holds a grudge against Mitch and Beanie from the days they all went to college together, rezones Mitch's house so that it can only be used for school business. Beanie counters with the idea of starting a frat. Battles of wit then ensue as Mitch and the boys try to outwit Pritchert before he can close them down for good.

Old School does realize that we've seen this story before and moves briskly through the setup plot and straight into the jokes (or maybe it's just lazy story telling). The butt of the majority of the jokes comes at the expense of Will Ferrell. His character is little more than an expanded Saturday Night Live sketch but Ferrell works it by fully committing to every joke he's given. There is nothing he won't do to for a laugh, including appearing completely naked in the movie.

And you thought that R rating was because of all the T& A usually found in college comedies.

Guess who of these we see naked...
The rest of the cast works just well enough to get by. In the role of the guy that "can't believe things have gotten so out of hand," Wilson does fine, but lacks the charm to carry the film on his own. A more charismatic leading man would have made the film far more entertaining.

Vince Vaughn has the charisma and actually steals the film from Ferrell. Instead of baring it all for laughs, Vaughn milks the witty dialogue he's given and adds the right amount of devilishness to the part. I had no trouble believing that Beanie could actually convince Mitch to do the outrageous things he does.

Getting by in his role, Piven gives just enough to not be annoying. More traditional casting would have had an older actor playing the role, instead of Piven in nerd glasses and messy hair. To be honest, a wooden puppet with a grumpy expression on his face could have played the role just as well.

The remaining cast is filled with cameos and stars you'll recognize, but few are given anything to do other than play cookie cutter roles. Ellen Pompeo tries to twinkle as Nicole, Mitch's love interest that does nothing to endear herself to Mitch (or the audience) other than be cute. Talk show host Craig Kilborn plays Nicole's boyfriend, putting as much effort into it as he does his opening monologues. Andy Dick has a cameo as a blow job instructor. Enough said about that.

I was particularly annoyed that Rob Corddry, who I consider to be the funniest correspondent on Comedy Central's The Daily Show, isn't given a single line of dialogue. Why have great talent just standing there?

Old School makes a lot of the same jokes over and over again, each time getting smaller and smaller laughs. The most common of the jokes is the ill-timed profanity. In the first five minutes of the film, when the band at Will Ferrell's wedding slips the F word into a pop ballad, it's funny. After 90 minutes of similar jokes, it's just not funny anymore.

Plotlines are left effing unresolved as well. After Mitch has a one-night stand with Darcie (totally hot Elisha Cuthbert), he discovers she's not only still in high school, but also his boss' daughter. Sounds like the set up for some great comedy, but we'll never know, because the subplot vanishes soon after.

All flaws and faults aside, if you're between the age of 16 and 28, you'll probably have a great time at the movies watching this. It's completely harmless and has a few decent laughs in it. If you've seen the trailer and it looks like something you'd enjoy, then you will. If you're in search of a good date movie that won't have you sleeping on the couch cause you laughed at all the boob jokes then keep searching.

What's It Worth? $4

Michael Goodson

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