Old School (2003) Movie Review

“Old School” is probably not as raunchy or lowbrow as you may have heard. Well, yes, it’s quite lowbrow in some areas, but compared to comedies like “The Sweetest Thing” and anything involving Tom Green, “Old School” is mild. Directed by co-writer Todd Phillips (“Road Trip”), the comedy follows three 30-somethings who, at crossroads in their lives, decide to start a fraternity and hilarity ensues. The mere mention of the film’s premise should tell you that nothing about “Old School” should be taken seriously.

Our hero is Mitch (Luke Wilson), a real-estate lawyer who, after discovering that his girlfriend (Juliette Lewis) is holding swinger parties while he’s at work, moves out. Mitch is persuaded by his married friend Beanie (Vince Vaughn) to start the fraternity in question. Of course the overbearing Beanie is more concern about finding a home away from home in the guise of caring for his heartbroken friend’s well being.

Will Ferrell plays Frank, a former college party guy who, after getting married, ends up almost immediately separated and moving in with Mitch. As it happens, Mitch’s new home is located within a college campus, which “explains” Mitch’s ability to turn the house into a fraternity. I guess. Does it matter?

Although Luke Wilson (“Charlie’s Angels”) is our leading man here, it’s Will Ferrell (“Austin Powers”) that steals the show. The former “Saturday Night Live” regular livens things up tremendously every time he’s onscreen. So it’s no surprise that the movie’s laugh-out loud moments all involve Ferrell’s Frank doing one stupid thing or another.

Stupid things like getting drunk and going out streaking, where he encounters his wife; or shooting himself in the neck with a tranquilizer gun and then French kissing the guy giving him mouth to mouth.

Of course since Wilson is our designated straight man, we’re forced to follow a just-slightly-above-dull movie-long courting session between Wilson’s Mitch and Ellen Pompeo (“Catch Me if You Can”). Vince Vaughn plays the same overbearing character that we’re used to in movies like “Made” and others. I swear the man can’t seem to play any other kind of roles. Talk show host Craig Kilborn has a limited role as Nicole’s jerk of a boyfriend; he’s such a jerk that he hits on a waitress at a kids’ birthday party. What a clich’ bad guy.

It’s at this point that I’m inclined to say, “That whole Third Act is a little silly”, but refreshing myself on the movie’s premise prevents me from typing those unnecessary lines. Er, I mean, typing them again.

“Old School” is a good, ridiculous film that is funny in many parts and never boring. And in truth, that’s really all I wanted.

Todd Phillips (director)
CAST: Luke Wilson …. Mitch Martin
Will Ferrell …. Frank
Vince Vaughn …. Beanie
Jeremy Piven …. Dean Gordon Pritchard

Buy Old School on DVD