Back-To-School Month: "Old School" Review

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Back-To-School Month: "Old School" Review

Rating: R
Length: 91 minutes
Release Date: Feb. 21, 2003
Directed by: Todd Phillips
Genre: Comedy

"Old School" is the perfect film for anyone who needs a break from all the responsibilities that come with adulthood. Mitch (Luke Wilson) seems to have it all: a beautiful girlfriend, a good career, and close friendships with Beanie (Vince Vaughn) and Frank (Will Ferrell). However, he finds out everything is not as it seems when he catches his girlfriend with another man. To make matters worse, Mitch makes a bad impression when he runs into a former crush, Nicole (Ellen Pompeo), at a party. Still hurting from the breakup with his girlfriend, Mitch moves into a house near a university in New York.

Beanie decides to throw a big bash at Mitch's new house, and the party is such a success that people start referring to it as "Mitch-A-Palooza." The three friends run into the dean of the university (Jeremy Piven) shortly after the party ends. The dean tells them Mitch's house has been reserved for community purposes. Unless they follow Pritchard's rules, Mitch will be forced to move out. Beanie suggests they turn the house into a fraternity that anyone can join. Mitch is not exactly thrilled with the idea, but Beanie talks him into it and names him "The Godfather." As more people find out about the fraternity, Mitch's house becomes a refuge for grown men who feel shackled by the demands of their jobs and families. Frank's wife asks for a divorce after one of the frat's elderly members dies during an event, prompting him to move in with Mitch.

The friends have to band together when Dean Pritchard boards up the fraternity house and says they violated multiple university policies. Mitch finds out they can get back in if they pass a series of athletic and academic challenges, and the frat members rise to the challenge, leading to a hilarious conclusion.

Director Todd Phillips was very familiar with the fraternity culture depicted in "Old School." In 1998, he produced and directed a documentary about fraternities. The film won the grand prize for documentary films at the Sundance Film Festival that year. His work on "Frat House" led him to the opportunity to write and direct "Old School." Phillips also went on to direct "The Hangover" and its two sequels, proving that he's a master of showing how grown men like to get a little wild from time to time.

"Old School" probably would not have been such a success with a different cast. Luke Wilson has a reputation for playing nice guys, and his role in "Old School" is no exception. Mitch is the perfect contrast to Beanie, who longs for the carefree days of his youth, and Frank, who had a bit of a reputation as a wild man in his college days. The three actors were later named members of the "Frat Pack" in recognition of their frequent appearances in high-grossing movies that use a certain type of humor. Jeremy Piven was perfect for the role of Dean Pritchard, but his performance here might be a surprise to fans of his "Entourage" character. The nerdy Pritchard is nothing like the brash Ari Gold.

It may seem like "Old School" is nothing more than a movie about grown men trying to reclaim their youth, but the film actually touched on some serious themes. Mitch struggles to deal with his girlfriend's infidelity and the challenge of trying to keep his fraternity activities secret from his colleagues at work. Beanie's success as a businessman, spouse, and father do not seem to be enough to satisfy him, so he uses the fraternity as a way to make his life more exciting. Frank's wife expects him to behave in a certain way, and he struggles with wanting to please her and wanting to be true to himself. These issues give the movie a broader appeal, which is probably why it grossed more than $17 million during its opening weekend.

"Old School" is not just for young men who enjoy raunchy comedies. Instead, it is a film for men and women who enjoy watching films about friends banding together to overcome obstacles. The film went on to gross more than $75 million in the United States, proving moviegoers have a soft spot for this type of storyline. Anyone looking for a good laugh will enjoy "Old School."

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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