Animal House – 5 stars


We were invited to the 50th birthday party of an old friend this weekend, and the theme was Animal House. In preparation of attending as Boon (Peter Riegert) and Katy (Karen Allen), my wife and I watched the movie to identify what they wore in the hopes of being identified as the characters. Our specific goal was delayed by our enjoyment of the movie, which neither of us had seen for twenty years or more.  It is sharply written, consistently inventive and enhanced by dozens of astute comic performances.  John Belushi’s physicality tends to get the lion’s share of accolades, but I’ve always been a bigger fan of Dean Wormer (John Vernon), who was chosen after Jack Webb turned the part down, and the pot-smoking Professor (Donald Sutherland), who took a $50,000 paycheck instead of the offer of 15% of the gross, a decision I’m certain haunts him to this day (the movie went on to gross $141 million).  His plaintive plea to his class is still one of my favorite moments of the movie:

Perhaps the greatest joy in these repressed, politically charged times is its dogged insistence on political incorrectness. Today, there would be a line of $46-an-article on-line ‘zine shitheads excoriating the film for its casual racism, sexism, insensitivity to the mentally disabled, and homophobia.   I can see the clickbait banners now:

“Animal House: The Genesis of the UVA Scandal”

“Nearly 40 Years Later, and We’re Still Laughing at Animal Cruelty”

“Animal House: A Frat Guy’s Birth of a Nation”

  1. Nicholas Kronos said:

    Nope, in 2014 you could not have any of the scenes featuring Otis Day and the Knights.

    I once had a comment at “Ace of Spades” (!) deleted by some co-blogger who I assume didn’t get the reference. I forget the context so the joke is lost, but the comment was :

    > Do you mind if we dance wif your dates?

    > (signed) enormous black man standing by your table

    So even at Ace’s site that wouldn’t fly. Imagine in Hollywood.

    Great visual, also, of how small the girl’s hand is in his meaty paw.

    Lisa Baur, the sorority girl who looks kind of like Karen Valentine, never went on to anything else. Don’t know why, as she was quite good in a really small part.

  2. BCC said:

    I think she played Warren Beatty’s wife in Splendor in the Grass.

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