Old School -
Luke Wilson, Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn
Release Date: 6.10.03
What's a guy supposed to do when
he catches the early flight home and finds his girlfriend in a
bed with a roomful of strangers? Return to college and start a
fraternity! Before you can say "wild and wet wrestling", Frank
"The Tank" (Will Ferrell), Mitch (Luke Wilson) and Beanie (Vince
Vaughn) have their own frat raging with out-of-control antics.
But when things get too wild, the dean sets out to shut them
What the hell happened to comedies? For nearly a decade now comedy
has moved from making you laugh at this and that to making you
laugh at poop and boobs and other such sickly things. We’ve seen
a guy fornicate with a pie, we’ve seen a man eat a testicle and
we’ve seen too much to do with semen in my opinion. I don’t
really find humor all that funny when it starts to make me
cringe – which is one of the reasons I think Old School
succeeds. There aren’t any jokes that will really make you
squirm in this movie. Instead of gearing the audience to have
their barf bags ready Old School manages to take the
talents of three very funny men and meld them into a pretty good
The genre is one that’s been done before – College. What is our
obsession with college, we may never know… and while there have
probably been College comedies that are similar in style to
Old School I can’t admit that I really enjoyed this one.
Let’s face it – guys know how guys work, and this is the bet
Old School puts all of its chips on. Will Ferrell, Vince
Vaughn and Luke Wilson are all getting on in their years and
when opportunity presents itself they start a fraternity (mostly
due to the somewhat narcissistic motivation that Vaughn’s
character puts upon the other two). This isn’t just your regular
group of College boy idiots who love keggers though, these guys
don’t discriminate and the frat is more like a community club.
I don’t really need to waste your time telling you about the jokes,
if you’re looking to laugh then I’d make a bet this film is up
your alley. Still not convinced? Well Vaughn, Ferrell and Wilson
are all given a little breathing room and their different styles
meld together for an interesting end product. I should mention
now that I hate comedy reviews – mainly because it’s so
difficult to review them. You either give up far too much
information while ruining the good gags, or you give away too
little and don’t make anyone want to see the movie. You’re going
to have to follow your senses on this one – if you’re one
chromosome extra, then you’re probably going to like it, and if
you’ve ever been in college or you just like that style of movie
you’re probably going to love it.
The comedy has a lot of formula, but keeps things fresh enough to
stop the whole thing from stinking up the fridge. Let’s face it,
men know men – and I’m not trying to get sentimental on you, but
I’d just like to point out that only men know what’s going
through each others minds and while we don’t admit to being a
collective like the fairer sex we do have our moments. The film
also features cameos by the ever-more bizarre Andy Dick and
rapper Snoop Dogg.
Old School was directed by Todd Phillips. Most of you might recognize
his other work ‘Road Trip’ – another college comedy featuring
the antics of Tom Green. This film does follow a formula, one
that hasn’t changed since some of the very first college films –
but it’s not a bad thing. There are romances, there’s hazing and
rituals and of course there’s the college style ‘Olympics’
needed to save the day. Old School doesn’t really hinge
itself on too many plot devices (though there are a few) and
really just puts more focus on the humor.
Another person who really should be mentioned is Mark Irwin,
cinematographer of Old School. IMDB.com has a listing of
his flicks (click
for new window) which shows that over the last decade
he’s been a busy man, working on a little of everything from
Scream to Old School. Irwin and Philips had both
previously worked together on Road Trip, and Philips must like
his style to have him return. Irwin manages to do some
interesting things with the camera – and while it’s nothing that
will have you soiling your dungarees it makes the film go down a
lot smoother by holding our attention in place. There are some
pretty good images in the film which stand out as well (as you
can notice from our screen grabs). Some say that a well
developed comedy focuses not on the jokes being told, but how
they’re being told onscreen – and Irwin manages to give a very
natural look to this film (notice his work also includes
Farrelly Brothers comedies aplenty) and makes things a little
more interesting in a strictly visual sense.
All formula aside, the film really succeeds by creating likeable
characters – characters whom we enjoy enough not to hate, but
hate enough to laugh at, if that makes any sense whatsoever.
Will Ferrell’s character Frank is quite out there – much like
Ferrell himself, Vaughn’s Beanie is full of a lot of talk which
brought me back to Swingers and Luke Wilson’s Mitch has his
moments as well, though his comedy is based more on incident
than vocalization. Once again my hatred for the comedy review
becomes apparent as that doesn’t sound one frikkin ounce of
funny. Just go see it guys.
Things don’t tie up in a neat package for every character in the
film, and it’s one of the last things that I think needs to be
mentioned. Old School
isn’t really a film that derives too much from a formula, but
when it does it’s like a refreshing taste of your favorite
corporate flavored soft-drink. For a genre of films that has
been replicated in so many fashions – namely the college flick –
I thought it was a good choice, if an all too brief one, to
breathe some fresh air into the decrepit lungs of repetition.
There are laughs here for those of you who enjoy are willing to sit
back and enjoy. Vince Vaughn and Will Ferrell really steal the
Wilson also has his moments. The story is really just another
college movie for the most part, but I found there were a lot of
laughs in the end.
out of 10
Old School: Unrated is presented in its original 2.35:1
widescreen ratio, one that’s anamorphic I might add. The colors
and lighting in this film are all very natural, and I found the
disc to have no major problems in its presentation, though I did
notice a few flaws in the transfer. Edge Enhancement shows up to
ruin the party, but luckily it’s pretty subdued to only a few
scenes. The print also suffers from a few nicks, but again this
is nothing major.
out of 10
On the audio side you may be surprised to hear that Old School
features both DTS and Dolby surround tracks, both in 5.1 audio.
It’s a comedy though folks – so don’t expect anything popping up
that will shock and amaze you. Still, it’s a nice little array
of options – though I found myself favoring the DTS track which
had a little more depth during the scenes involving parties or
loud effects. The tracks are mixed pretty well and dialogue
comes through clear.
8 out of 10
If you’re a Widescreen advocate, then you’ll want to know that
Old School is only available in a widescreen presentation
via the Unrated edition route. This edition adds approximately 3
minutes to the film, as well as gives you ‘unrated’ menus which
are just a couple of scenes from the movie which feature boobies
strung into the menu. The special features are pretty stacked
for a comedy – though only a one-disc release there be some
great goodies for all you land lubbers out there.
The feature length commentary is one of the best I’ve heard
in a while, and while I think the boys were a little funnier on
their Late Night publicity appearances on various talk shows
this one is definitely on of the better commentaries I’ve heard.
Featuring Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn, Luke Wilson and an also
very funny director Todd Phillips, this one will keep you
entertained throughout and is a recommended listen to anyone
looking for those extra laughs.
From the cutting room floor is just under 15 minutes of footage cut from
the film. A couple of these scenes are just extensions of ones
in the movie, but there are some that add to the story and
actually do have a couple of good laughs in there (but
ultimately you can see why most were cut). ‘Outtakes’ is
an 8-minute blooper reel that is just that.
A made for TV production Old School Orientation is really
just your run of the mill DVD fluff – you’re not getting any new
info on the film and it was just thrown in for good measure.
Much more interesting is the spoof of James Lipton’s Inside
the Actor’s Studio which I found to be a little dry – but
definitely much better than the documentary. This feature has
Will Ferrell impersonating Mr. Lipton interviewing himself and
the rest of the members featured in the commentary. This one
runs just shy of 25 minutes.
Trailers and TV Spots
gives us three TV spots and the theatrical trailer. There are
also previews to various other discs coming from DreamWorks.
Image Gallery is a surprising 80 or so shots from the disc
and I found it to be pretty good overall. There’s also the
regular DVD stuff – production notes, cast & crew bios – and I
should mention that there are two very easy to find easter
eggs which should keep you guys going when all is said and
out of 10
If you like to laugh then this is your flick. Old School
has moments of formula but is pulled from drowning by the funny
leads. The disc has got plenty to offer fans, and if you’re
looking for a great commentary then I totally recommend this
Review originally appeared on
DVD REVIEWS BY CHRIS McGEACHY: