Old School - 13th September 2010

After we had finished Dead Heat (see review below), we were channel surfing and this was on Showtime on demand. I hadn't seen it in a while, the wife was game and so we sat and watched the whole thing.
I think it's a good funny film. It's not spectacular or strikingly original, borrowing heavily, as it does, from films such as Animal House and PCU but it sets out its characters, it sets out its premise and then it plays it through in a perfectly decent way.
Watching it this time around though I realised, that while everyone else does their schtick and hits all the right beats, the genius of this movie is how truly dark the story of Will Ferrell's character is and how there is no attempt, by Ferrell, to make the character likable or sympathetic. Take the performance out of a frat boy comedy and it's a clever, fairly subtle (by Will Ferrell standards) portrayal of a genuine lunatic slowly self destructing without the intelligence, memory or perception to pull himself out of his self dug hole.
I have heard SNL writer's say this about Will Ferrell, who now has sort of been relegated to just playing bumbling naive oafs or stupid braggarts, that they loved writing for him because he could always deliver the weird, perverted or black humour in a way that kept the audience on his side laughing and he was never afraid to say or do something shocking.
I think the first couple of times I watched this, and I haven't seen it a lot, I always just let it wash over me, laughed at the right places and just thought the whole thing was silly, good but silly. This time though, I was also happy to see that beneath all the Vince Vaughn jabbering, the Luke Wilson reluctant hero to smug git routine and the cast of obviously wacky characters around them that Will Ferrell was operating on a totally other level.
I know some of you are reading this and you think I am insane and I know some of you don't see and won't see it, which is, of course, fine but I also think it's a shame because I believe in this film, some of his better SNL stuff and most of the work he does with Adam McKay he does some truly inspired acting. Where as I have never felt, even in his better films, that Jim Carrey is ever operating on any other level than just simply, outwardly wacky, Will Ferrell, on the other hand, plays it straight. Even when he's running down the road naked in Old School, he plays it like a guy who honestly believes he's part of a group of guys doing the same thing and is confused, bemused and maybe even a little hurt to find out it's just him.
This is not saying he is playing it realistic either but it's a straight faced surrealistic character that hints at genuine melancholy beneath the surface, although I am sure 50% of people reading this are scratching their heads thinking "you've lost the plot man, stop over analysing this dumb comedy, are you referring to the same guy who rubs his balls on a drum kit in Step Brothers or was in the Bewitched movie?" and that's fine, I don't completely see what is so great about Star Wars particularly, not that I think it's bad, I just don't get the hullabaloo. It's each to their own at the end of the day.
Anyhew, back to the movie. Like I said at the start, I like it and think it's funny. It was right there at the start of all these, so called by some, Frat-Pack comedies before Luke Wilson fell off the face of the planet only to occasionally return to earth to star in bemusingly bad semi-comedies, before Vince Vaughn made sure he only made one film a year and that film, despite being an atrociously unfunny piece of cinematic effluent, would always make tons of cash, before Apatow went big screen and just after American Pie.
Todd Phillips, who more recently made the so-so monster smash of the summer The Hangover, directs well and keeps it all flowing nicely towards it's inevitable, misfits must trump authority ending and speaking of which, it's great to see Jeremy Piven play the crotchety, piece of filth Dean in an amusing role reversal from his laid-back, anti-authoritarian, slacker in PCU.
The weak link in all of this is the inevitable romantic sub plot with bland as beige Ellen Pompeo who could only possibly fall for our 'hero' after her current boyfriend is exposed to be a slimy philanderer but so-what, at the end of a day it was nice to revisit this movie and have a good chuckle.

7 out of 10 guilty pleasure fudge brownies
Points from The Misses 7 out of 10 guilty pleasure fudge brownies

The Kids in the Hall "Death Comes to Town" - 16th September 2010

Dead Heat - 13th September 2010