Old School
directed by Todd Phillips
(Dreamworks, 2003)

Woody Allen has his casting favorites: Diane Keaton, Alan Alda, Mia Farrow (well, maybe not Mia Farrow anymore). In that respect, he's exactly like Todd Phillips, director of Old School.

That's probably the only respect (OK, Phillips does have one line in Old School, so maybe you can count acting in your own movies, too). Both direct comedies, but if Allen is highbrow, Phillips is low, lowbrow.

Still, Old School, with Luke Wilson, Will Ferrell and Vince Vaughn, is fun: raunchy, irreverent fun.

It's not in the Annie Hall style -- it's more like a homage to Porky's or Animal House. Three guys in their 30s decide adult life is too boring, too confining. What they really miss are the party-'til-you-drop days of college.

So they start their own fraternity at the local institution of higher learning, hold an open house headlined by Snoop Dogg, open the taps and bring in the coeds. Spouses and kids pretty much fall by the wayside in the ensuing debacles involving streaking and run-ins with the college's dean.

There are stereotypical fraternity house pranks, pledging and ill-advised flirting, but what gives Old School its witty moments -- and there are many -- are some fleeting, creative, insider jokes. They take some of the sting away from an ending that's less funny than the previous 75 minutes have been.

Are the situations sophomoric? You bet. Do the director and cast go for the easy laughs? Sure.

But, you know, Phillips is the director of Road Trip, starring Tom Green. He's probably not going to bring you a movie that demands intelligence or a working knowledge of foreign languages.

Wilson, Ferrell and Vaughn may not have a classic chemistry on screen, but it's hardly needed in a flick like Old School. Situations, not relationships, drive the humor and all the actors, especially Ferrell, are up to the challenge.

Old School is all smart-alecky fun, aimed at those who aren't easily offended. It's not a "Film," it's just a movie. And if you're OK with that, Old School should suit you just fine.

- Rambles
written by Jen Kopf
published 22 November 2003

Buy it from Amazon.com.