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Movie Review

Ah, college life. The pursuit of knowledge. The quest for wisdom. The never-ending search for all-night parties where alcohol flows like water and sex is a contact sport. It’s just another night at the Old School, the latest drunken-lecherous-frat house film—this time with a middle-aged twist. Mitch Martin’s life was going just fine until the thirtysomething real estate lawyer caught an early flight home. That’s when he discovers that his live-in girlfriend likes to have group sex with total strangers. Mitch moves into a bungalow on the edge of a local college campus, determined to quietly piece his life back together. But his friends, Beanie and Frank, will have none of his staid lifestyle. To cheer him up they throw a massive kegger that attracts the attention of the school’s dean, Gordon Pritchard. Unhappy with all the rowdiness, Dean Pritchard tells the men that the house has been rezoned and now belongs to the college. Only official college groups will be allowed to use it. What else is Mitch to do but start a fraternity where anyone—from Alpha Taus to omega octogenarians—can become a member and indulge in debauched Dionysian revelry? And what else are discerning audiences to do when the funnels come out and the clothes come off but beat a hasty retreat toward the exits?

positive elements: Mitch is repulsed by his girlfriend’s infidelity. As misguided as their efforts are, Beanie and Frank genuinely care for Mitch and try to help him when life gets rough. Beanie turns down the amorous advances of a girl because he’s married. When student members of the fraternity face expulsion, Mitch rebuffs Beanie for wanting to let them fend for themselves, urging his friend to take responsibility for the group he helped begin. Mitch’s high school flame, Nicole, has a cheating boyfriend whose actions are (amazingly) portrayed as negative.

spiritual content: Frank gets married in a church. When a hung over Mitch and Beanie first meet Dean Pritchard, they ask him if he’s a Jehovah’s Witness. A man who dies of a heart attack is shown singing "Dust in the Wind" in heaven with a halo and wings.

sexual content: More sexual actions and jokes pop up than bear repeating. A few snippets should suffice. When Mitch comes home early and discovers his girlfriend in bed watching porn (viewers are not shielded from its sounds or sights), he excitedly exclaims how wonderful her addiction is and begins to undress. Suddenly, a blindfolded man and woman in various stages of undress stumble out of the bathroom. Later, another man knocks on the door announcing he’s there for group sex. He dumps her for her indiscretions, but Beanie thinks that’s stupid, calling her "sexually enlightened." Another scene features two topless women preparing to wrestle an 89-year-old man (the camera lingers on their exposed breasts). There is also male nudity (including a long frontal shot), a sexual encounter with a high school girl, crass comments about genitalia, descriptions of sexual fantasies, interrupted foreplay, oral sex sight gags, masturbation, sex toys and homosexual jesting (which includes a scene in which Frank kisses another man). Multiple characters cohabit (Nicole rationalizes moving in with her boyfriend by saying it "makes sense financially").

violent content: As part of a hazing ritual, Mitch, Frank and Beanie tear through the streets in a black van and abduct their pledges (in the process they obliterate several trash cans and a shopping cart). One painful hazing stunt involves an obese man getting dragged off an overhang by a cinderblock tied to his genitals. Frank tries to strangle a man he thinks is receiving sexual favors from his wife (he’s not) and ends up getting beaten with a teapot. Mitch gets punched in the face and kicked in the crotch. Frank accidentally shoots himself in the neck with a tranquilizer gun, falls in a pool and nearly drowns. When Frank confronts Dean Pritchard about bribing a student to revoke the fraternity’s license, the two come to blows. A fisherman gets flattened by a car that falls off a bridge and then explodes (immolating its driver).

crude or profane language: About 15 f-words and 25 milder profanities make appearances. God and Jesus’ names are abused nearly 20 times. Other crudities also surface.

drug and alcohol content: This is a movie about college fraternities and—given the track record of such films—one has every reason to expect characters to have bottles of grog glued to their hands. Mitch, Frank and Beanie could beat fish in a drinking contest. Frank starts funneling (a practice in which large quantities of alcohol are poured rapidly through a funnel placed in the drinker's mouth) at one point, which leads to a bout of drunken streaking. Characters also smoke regularly. Mitch tells Nicole that he was attracted to her in high school partially because she smoked Marlboros.

other negative elements: The institution of marriage takes it on the chin. Male characters continually gripe about the incredibly difficulty of remaining faithful to one woman. During Frank’s wedding, Beanie complains about his wife and urges the groom to flee before he gets hitched. During a counseling session with his wife, Marissa, Frank complains that "suddenly you get married and you’re supposed to be this totally different guy. ... I’m definitely feeling freaked out about having sex with only one person for the rest of my life." Well, turns out that Frank doesn’t have to worry about that too much. Less than a week after the wedding, he moves in with Mitch because of his arguments with Marissa. About a month later, she divorces him. Her rationale? "It just doesn’t feel right being married."

conclusion:"All of the fun of college. None of the education," brags Old School’s tagline. At best that’s misleading. Moviegoers learn quite a bit about substance abuse, treating women as sexual objects and how (supposedly) agonizing it is to be confined to one mate for life. A laugh or two isn’t worth the price of admission to this institute of baser education. Children. Teens. Adults. Age doesn’t matter. Nobody should enroll in this School.

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Luke Wilson as Mitch Martin; Will Ferrell as Frank; Vince Vaughn as Beanie; Ellen Pompeo as Nicole; Perrey Reeves as Marissa; Jeremy Piven as Dean Gordon Pritchard; Snoop Dogg as himself; James Carville as himself


Todd Phillips ( )





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Loren Eaton

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