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Animal House (1978)
Directed By: John Landis
Starring: John Belushi, Stephen Furst, Karen Allen, Mark Metcalf, Donald Sutherland
Run Time: 1h 49m
TMM Score: 4 Stars
Weakness: Taste in Humor Has Changed
The College Dean has had enough. He’s going to expel every member of the raucous, crass, and rebellious Delta House but this is no group of guys to take things lying down.
I had just finished being blown away by “The Blues Brothers” despite my trepidation at watching it so I decided to keep wading into the comedy pool I had previously been a little leary of. If “Animal House,” had half the charm of that film, I would be laughing my head off and falling in love shortly.
I’ll say it now. This isn’t gonna be too long of a review. I think watching this film so close to “The Blues Brothers” was a real mistake and I don’t recommend others try it. Give yourself time to come down off that BBs high before checking out “Animal House,” or you might get whiplash.
Don’t get me wrong. Both Animal House (AH) and the Blues Brothers (BB) have the same sense of humor, lack of respect for much of society’s rules and norms, and have the same high quality performances but where one is a tremendously fun journey AH is like BB without its charm.
That is its charm in a way, actually. It’s the version of that film that you are kind of ashamed for liking. If you are asking yourself whether to see the film or not, it is as simple as taking a look at Belushi’s characters.
You know that movie you liked starring this guy?
Would you like to see what he did before he was given money to buy a cool car, wreck shopping malls, and perform with famous singers? Would you like to see what he’s like when he’s not wearing a suit, hat and shades?
The difference between the films is that simple. They are both classics, both hilarious, both exemplify an era, but one has never been duplicated (well at least) and the other, Animal House, spawned innumerable homages, parodies, reimaginings, and an entire genre (raunchy college comedies.)
There’s no way to deny that what Animal House did was usher in a style of film that I am ashamed to say I like. Many of the films I watched as a late teenager and early twenty something could fit into this genre and for that I owe this film a hearty “thanks for the laughs.”
I just can’t bring myself to do it though. I appreciate its importance but I can honestly say that I wish films like this hadn’t had such a negative impact on my thought life and attitude in my youth. Granted, It wasn’t this film that I saw when I was younger and so it wasn’t the one that influenced me in some negative ways, but if I find myself thanking it for spawning movies that I have laughed heartily at and have even brought joy to my heart in some dark times, it seems only fair that I also hold it accountable for its influences which weren’t so good for me.
The film’s attitude toward authority, women, and anyone who generally has any guiding principle other than getting drunk, high, laid, and loud as much as possible has been carried forward in many films and our culture as a whole. I won’t say whether I think that has been a NET positive or negative.
I will say that it has been a mixed bag for me in my life but I can boil it down to Animal House makes me laugh but it also contributed to some negative tendencies in my life and if you are wondering if you should watch this film from that perspective, I might just recommend you hold off.
If that’s the sort of thing that isn’t a struggle for you, you may just love this movie just as many comedian film makers throughout the years, obviously, have.
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