February 19, 2005

Seven Years of College Down the Drain

First, just some interesting posts of note - the Accordion Guy gives us a good cheap Bat-laugh, and Mike talks about the new Krypto animated series. (Hey, I'm thinking of buying my godson Logan a stuffed Krypto for his 2nd birthday). Also, have added the Zombie Killer's blog, only because I was going to review Damn Nation # 1, but here's it in a nutshell: any comic that has military-types and zombies should be entertaining, but this book ain't it - art is too messy, the plot is indecipherable, and it's just plain mediocre.

No, I am here to discuss the one film that corrupted my youth, the one film that, thanks to an uncle's description, I later came to appreciate - Animal House.

First, it was the first film in John Landis' late 70's/early 80's trifectas - following this came The Blues Brothers (a love letter to Chicago, and which had a great impact on me coming of age in the Windy City) and An American Werewolf in London (a really cool take on the werewolf myth, and probably one of the greatest horror films ever made). His work after this, in my opinion, seemed spotty, his only real high point since then being the HBO series Dream On

However, Animal House is a great "major debut", a film that made now would be deemed cliche and inappropriate...but that's the point. This film is a celebration of rude, inappropriate behavior, the kind of film that Michael Medved would find instaneously offensive, and thank God for that. It's a movie that, structurally, is near-perfect, the laughs natural, the acting spot-on, and that (at least for me) provided a picture of college life that was ideal.

(Ironically, I did spend seven years in college....going to school part time and working part or full time. Unfortunately, I have no interesting stories about debauched behavior. Read into that what you will.)

Unfortunately, these three films, with their kid-in-a-candy-store spirit, eventually led (in my opinion) to an incredibly spotty career. Landis, like Spielberg and Lucas, was part of a new "school" of directors. However, as the book Outrageous Conduct points out, Landis also lacked discipline, and that "bigger/better/faster" attitude ended up costing three people their lives.

However, in these times of comic-influenced blockbusters (with the simplest of plots and the heaviest of CGI), Animal House seems a throwback to a different style of filmmaking. No film in recent memory embraces this free-for-all spirit (Old School is maybe closest, but only because the debauchery serves as a counterpoint to the main characters). Sad as it is to say, this movie that defiantly cried, "Nothing is over until we decide it is!" seems a relic from a more innocent time.

This from a movie that features nudity, heavy alcohol use, profanity, and horse-related fun. Go figure.

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