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Old School | review | dvd | Lollipop
by Chad Van Wagner
Some things never change. The American male's mid-life crisis is one of them. As the generation that watched "punk" "break" with Nirvana, grunge, etc., starts to look honest to God middle age in the face, Hollywood has answered the call of the formerly wild and updated the '80s T&A party films of these sad sacks' youth.
Old School is aggressively uncreative. It doesn't care if it's been done before. It has no use for grand statements. Hell, there are times it can't even be bothered to pay attention to its own plot. None of which matters. This is exactly what it tries to be. That is, it's a dumb party film for and about guys who discovered the joys of self-abuse via Phoebe Cates' breasts in Fast Times at Ridgemont High.
The setup (I refuse to call it the plot) is simple: Luke Wilson finds out his live-in girlfriend is flagrantly cheating on him, and needs a place to live. He can only afford a big, old house, conveniently located near the university. Buddies Vince Vaughn and Will Ferrell see the Animal House-esque opportunities. Hijinks ensue.
Descriptions are irrelevant except to say that, for the most part, Old School works. Luke Wilson is exactly the vaguely upstanding milquetoast the setup requires, Vince Vaughn is a perfect middle-of-the-road suburban sleazebag, and Will Ferrell...
Will Ferrell is the reason this movie was made. He's the likeable dumbass that always drank that one shot too many and ran naked through the drive-thru at Wendy's. And Ferrell does indeed get naked, so consider yourself warned. If Wilson is what the audience sees themselves as, Ferrell is what they probably were, and that's where the magic of films like this lies. Old School viciously stabs at the softening, I'm-still-hip,-really-I-am, cop-out attitudes many aging, suburban, SUV-driving former party animals possess, and shows how sad they really are. Obviously, it's ridiculous to hold Old School to any standard except that of brainless entertainment, but it lies perfectly where true comedy lives: In the reflection of plain old dumb human behavior. A big, stupid blast.