Guys Just Want To Have Fun
Every time I think about Will Ferrell, I smile. And whenever I see him on the big or small screen, I laugh out loud – no matter how silly the movie or SNL sketch. In Old School, he’s as funny as ever, but this "don't-act-your-age" comedy would be almost a total disaster without him.
Describing Frank, the character he portrays, as a big teddy bear of a guy, Ferrell says, "He is getting married, but even at the altar, he doesn’t really know if it’s the right thing. He has this alter ego, ‘Frank the Tank,’ from his past party days, who is not quite out of his system."
Watching the innocent Frank turn into ‘Frank the Tank’ emerges as the comic highlight of Old School. He gets this Jekyll/Hyde-type opportunity when his two best friends, played by Luke Wilson (Legally Blonde) and Vince Vaughn (Domestic Disturbance), persuade him to help them set up a college fraternity. Why would three thirty-something guys want to be involved in such an undertaking? Does the term "regression" ring a bell? Wild parties and sexy young co-eds beckon them back to the life of irresponsibility they had as college students.
Standing in their way, of course, is the evil University Dean. Jeremy Piven (The Family Man) portrays Dean Pritchard as a man with an anger management disorder who will stop at nothing to rid the school of its outrageous new fraternity. "He grew up with the three boys, but I think they used to torture him as a child, " Piven explains. "Now he’s in a position to turn the tables on them, and he ends up being their nemesis." Here’s an actor who never gives a bad performance, and he’s perfect in this unsympathetic role.
Unfortunately, the talents of Ferrell and Piven are not enough to save Old School. Its crude humor and obscene ambience are similar to the raunchy approach in Road Trip, American Pie, and Scary Movie. But, at least in those films, juvenile actions involved teenagers, not adult males. Still, if watching men with ropes and cement blocks tied around their genitals seems hilarious to you, what do I know?
Old School wastes so much talent it’s shameful. Robert Corddry (a highly amusing commentator on TV’s "The Daily Show"), as one of the fraternity’s pledges, speaks not a word of dialogue. The wonderful Leah Remini (from TV’s "King of Queens") appears in only a couple of throw-away scenes as Vaughn’s long-suffering wife. Snoop Dogg performs just one short rap number. Up-and-coming young actress Ellen Pompeo (Moonlight Mile), playing Wilson’s new love interest, gets very little camera time. And comedian Andy Dick is practically unrecognizable in the movie’s most offensive sequence. Considering the material, he probably insisted on a disguise.
Does Old School have a message for viewers? Yes. It's okay to enjoy yourself -- but it's also important to grow up and be responsible. That’s good advice for filmmakers as well.
(Released by DreamWorks and rated "R" for strong sexual content, nudity and language.)