Fight Club meets Animal House. If movies were awarded ratings on pitches alone, Old School would be five stars, film of the month, best movie of 2003. Ponder it: a comedy that taps into male, thirtysomething, white-collar angst, but lays on shedloads of beer, women and KY Jelly to soothe the headache. What's not to like?
Luke Wilson plays Mitch, a real-estate lawyer whose life is flipped inside out when he discovers that his fiancée Juliette Lewis is hosting regular gang bangs. Vince Vaughn and Will Ferrell are Beanie and Frank, mates who find Mitch the perfect pad to recuperate - - a campus house. Promising parties and, by extension, a regular parade of "ass", the guys then form a fraternity. Grown men tie their penises to breeze blocks by way of an initiation test. Every command is greeted with a: "Sir, yes, sir!" And complete strangers take to calling Mitch "Godfather" on the street.
All of which is amusing, at times even hilarious, as happily married Frank rediscovers his college alter ego Frank The Tank and Beanie becomes the self-appointed master of ceremonies (think Swingers' Trent, with jowls and frizzy hair). And c'mon, who wouldn't laugh at an octogenarian frat `boy' climbing into an inflatable paddling pool, smothering himself in KY Jelly and wrestling with topless ladies?
Then comes the third act and the movie starts popping screws. Taking a wrong turn as it accelerates away from the adult neuroses and swerves past the teen puerility, Old School drops through the gears to become a puttering battle of wits between our heroic frat pack and nasty college dean Jeremy Piven. Out is the internal bawling, macho chest beating and underlying fear of stagnation (wife, kids, people carriers, garden centres); in is bonding, acceptance and gender enlightenment. No one's asking for collapsing skyscrapers: just a consistency of tone and a willingness to leave the odd loose end blowing in the wind.