SFC12: Animal House

Finally!  A month and a half into summer, I finally get around to reviewing the first film of the

Summer Film Challenge 2012: Apocalypse Edition!

If you have no idea what I am talking about, click out to this link and get yourself caught up.

2012 is the end of certain…everythings, and so I would like to start this challenge with a film that I honestly should have seen two years ago.  It is the quintessential film for any graduating High Schooler about to embark on the incredible journey that is University.  One is never fully initiated into college until they have been subjected to this film and so it is with great pride that I officially start the SFC12 Review season with that National Lampoon’s classic:  ANIMAL HOUSE.

And with that graphic, you get just about everything you need from Animal House.  The End.

I wish I could say that I enjoyed this film more.  I found moments of it hilarious, particularly the shooting of the Horse scene, Blutarsky breaking the guitar, and Otter’s brilliant thoughts on golf.  However, I felt the film lacked that all-encompassing through-line which leads to the best comedic payoff possible.  Instead, we are treated to some humorous vinettes that ultimately go nowhere.

Now, I know that some of you think I missed the point of this film, but let me clarify what I mean.  Animal House is what is called a “lovable loser” or “slacker” film – in which the audience cheers for a hero or group of heroes who do nothing except fight the Man.  Despite their inattentiveness to making themselves into anything of worth, the little scamps stumble and bumble their way around and somehow come out on top, all the while creating hilarious moments and endearingly clumsy characters.

Perhaps the reason that I am not such a fan of Animal House is because I suffer from having first seen Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, which I hold to be the epitome of that genre of comedy.  The difference between the two is that Ferris does go out and have crazy adventures, BUT there is character growth for at least two characters (Cameron and Jeanie).  Beyond that, the film creates a situation to where there is constant conflict that they might be caught, which leads up to a spectacular climax as Ferris rushes home to stop his family discovering his escapades.  The final sequence is one of the best in the movie because it takes characters that have been endeared to us and puts them in a humorous but important situation so that we care what happens to them.

Contrasting this (and I am aware that others have issue with this as well), the ending of Animal House showcases the sort of train wreck I would imagine occurring if the characters themselves leapt from the movie to write its conclusion.  It has very little ambition and, while I enjoyed the characters enough to care what happens to them, I was sorely displeased by the cheesy Remember the Titans-esque “Where did they end up?” title cards.  The marching band joke is hilarious as it reminds me of home, but the rest of the scene dissolves into ridiculous chaos that has no cathartic value.  The “evil” principle is no worse the wear for his injustices (unlike the hilarious debasement of the principle in Ferris Bueller’s), nor is the corrupt Mayor in anyway reprimanded for his “sins”.  The film ends with raucous people being raucous and implying that this is perfectly fine in due Nat. Lampoon’s style.

Still, I do have to admit that it was a fun film that I did enjoy at least partially.  It feels like my College Career can finally begin now!  …Oh.  Anyway, I do recommend that you see the film sometime as it is a Classic bit of American Cinema (the bit that you pick out with your fork and set on the side of your plate) and I am very glad to cross it off my list.

OH!!!  And  I am proud to bestow the honor of Second Most Annoying Theme Song in a Film to Animal House‘s frat boy drinking song.  Proudly standing one pedestal below the Last of the Mohicans, it has found its place in glory at last.

One final thought before I go:  “Where were you when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor!?!?”

Rating:  6//10

The actions of that day inspired him to leave his structured military life and take up dancing…

And now for a special treat!  Ryan and I were talking about how to make the 3rd (and Final) Summer Film Challenge a little more special than it has been in past years.  We thought about creating a Vblog to share our opinions with the world a little more directly!  But we didn’t have a proper camera, so that was out.  And then Ryan hit on a brilliant idea:  Why don’t we Podcast!?  So, with his wonderful sound equipment, we began the first ever SFC Podcast and, thanks to the magic of the internet, you can listen to it below:

Let us know what you thought about the Podcast in the comments here or on Facebook.  You can check out Ryan’s review of Animal House and see how we compared.  Thanks  for sticking around this long!  Be expecting a lot of great reviews out in the near future, as I still have so much to catch up on.  Up next is another Summer Film Challenge Review so be excited for that, and then immediately following that I will go silent for a while.  Two reasons:  1. I have several new engagements on my plate that will make blogging a bit difficult, and 2. The next review will be one of the biggest and most intense I have ever had to write.  I started this blog looking forward to reviewing this particular bit of culture and I cannot wait to share my thoughts with you.

But, until then, please let me know what you thought of this review, be looking for the next one, go drink a beer or something, and I leave you with this clue for next time:  “Keifer Sutherland = Dr. Strangelove”.

Please Comment Below and Subscribe!

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Author: Tyler D. Welch

Filmmaker, Storyteller, Scholar

1 thought on “SFC12: Animal House”

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