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Freshmen Larry Kroger (Tom Hulce) and Kent Dorfman (Stephen Furst) are making the rounds at Faber College, 1962, in a bid to join one of the fraternities. They are shunned by the rich kids at the uppity Omega House, where one of the girls dismisses them as "the wimp and the blimp" and only reluctantly accepted at Delta which is known as "the worst fraternity on campus." While Delta will accept almost anyone willing to indulge in their ritual hell-raising and binge-drinking, Dean Wormer (John Vernon) will try every dirty trick in the book, even worming support from the unctuous Omegans, in order to rid Faber of the disorderly Deltonians forever.

Review by Keith Lofthouse:
Animal House came out in the same year as Grease but both have endured for very different reasons. The former is remembered for its rambunctious spirit and its flagrant irreverence; the latter, for its music and for its wholesome and nostalgic celebration of young love. Grease might allude to the dilemmas of unwanted pregnancy but all that was brushed aside by the next song and is peaches and cream when compared to the pickles and chilli sauce served up in Animal House. My, how the kids changed in the few short years between Rydell High, circa 1955, where most of the students are likeable, to Faber College,1962 where many are despicable.

The plot can be summed up in a few fierce words from Dean Wormer who growls at his Omega House conspirator "let's grab the bull by the balls and kick those (Delta) punks off the campus!" Omega is ruled by the smarmy Marmalard (James Daughton) and the sadistic Neidermeyer (Mark Metcalf), dishing out bum beatings to ardent initiates, like Kevin Bacon who debuts as the uptight Chip Diller. On the low brow of the campus, Delta is a refuge for misfits, like Stratton (Tim Matheson), a notorious chick-magnet and Bluto (John Belushi), a gluttonous yobbo, as dumb as he is crazy, and D-Day (Bruce McGill), a horse-power hoon whose party trick is drumming his fingers on this throat to the fanfare of the Lone Ranger.

After many big names backed away, Universal only agreed to make the picture after Donald Sutherland signed on as the deadpan, pot-smoking, student-bedding English professor, lending the project some prestige. Tom Hulce, Karen Allen, Tim Matheson and Bacon were unknowns at the time and went on to substantial careers, but other factors made Animal House the "break-out" comedy that still remains remarkably fresh today. It was one of the very first to be aimed at a restless generation emerging from what they imagined was the tyranny of parental control.

Loss of innocence started here at a wild Delta House toga party, or by watching Bluto pissing on the garden beds or gaping at a gaggle of topless sorority babes as they flounce about in a bedroom pillow fight. For better and for worse Animal House spawned a thousand retreads each trying to top the other for gross-out, scatalogical, slapstick and absurdist humour. Indeed, Belushi's impression of an exploding zit might have been a precursor to the outrage that was sprayed on American Pie.

Most notable extra in this 25th anniversary edition is a Where Are They Now? mockumentary in which several cast members imagine mostly unfunny stories of their characters' lives after they left Faber. John Vernon does best as the erstwhile Dean, confined to wheelchair, but flying into an apoplectic rage whenever the interviewer (John Landis) mentions Delta. Bacon doesn't lend his face to the occasion, but proves himself a good sport with an audio bit detailing how he turned from a "dope smoking, hard drinking yuppie" into a Born Again Christian, finding God in a plate full of fried eggs.

Notable omissions from the retrospective are Sutherland, Hulce (whose character doesn't rate a mention), and the destructively talented John Belushi who finally took a short cut from Delta House to the Big House in the sky. A second feature: The Year Book An Animal House Reunion provides an enlightening background to "The Making Of…", includes Bacon and other extended interviews with cast members and archival footage of Belushi. In another tragic footnote was that of co-writer Douglas Kenney, who plays the goofball, Stork. He served as co-writer on another teen hit, Caddyshack, and then toppled to his death from a crumbling cliff-top in Hawaii while on holiday in 1980.

Published January 22, 2004

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(US, 1978)

CAST: John Belushi, Tim Matheson, Tom Hulce

DIRECTOR: John Landis

SCRIPT: Harold Ramis, Douglas Kenney, Chris Miller

RUNNING TIME: 109 minutes

PRESENTATION: Anamorphic widescreen; 5.1 surround.

SPECIAL FEATURES: Featurette: Where Are They Now? A Delta House Update. MXPX Shout (Music Video). Did You Know That? (Trivia Notes that pop-up at the bottom of the screen at relevant times during the running of the film). Page 2: The Year Book - An Animal House Reunion (feature) and Theatrical Trailer.


DVD RELEASE: January 21, 2004

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