ninth symphony films - movie reviews


DIRECTOR  -  todd phillips

RATED  -  r

GENRE  -  comedy

LENGTH  -  90 minutes

RELEASED  -  21 february 2003

DISTRIBUTOR  -  dreamworks

OFFICIAL SITE  -  old school

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $24,000,000
old school - a shot from the film


buy the dvd from old school at

buy the dvd from old school at

three men are disenchanted with life and try to recapture their college days by forming a fraternity.

the director has a cameo as one of the men who wants to "gang bang" luke wilson's girlfriend.


picture from old school

picture from old school

picture from old school


one out of four possible stars

The main purpose of this movie is to make people laugh. Topless women, genital jokes, and tranquilizer darts are all included in Old School for your viewing pleasure. Though it's questionable what type of people will find this movie entertaining. It does not travel far enough in the gross out direction to really make the audience cover its eyes in disgust. But neither is the comedy very intelligent, eliminating the value this picture might have for more "high minded" individuals. The picture just stumbles around somewhere between the two extremes.

Really, the one entertaining piece of this film is the performance of the naturally funny Will Ferrell. His enthusiasm for his part and the dialogue he utters (much of which feels improvised, to his character's benefit), should ensure that at least a few minutes of this film are worthwhile. But it is amazing how entirely agitating Vince Vaughn is in this film. He's proved in the past that he has the ability for successful comedy and drama, but this role just doesn't do him justice. From the first frame, Vaughn is the type of character you just want to shove into a trash bin and stamp on. Excepting a single joke around the first turning point of the film (involving the words "headphones" and a child), Vaughn is never once entertaining. He's just annoying.

And for being one of the main characters in the film, the usually effective Luke Wilson gives what can only be termed a flaccid performance. Lackluster if anything and completely without humor, Wilson's casting in this role is questionable. He doesn't even seem like he should be in the movie as he has no chemistry with any of the players. And in further casting (or screenwriting, rather) mistakes, Jeremy Piven (as a college dean) and Andy Dick (as a blow job instructor) are both unforgivably under-used and each show up in only a precious few scenes.

Perhaps it is better for both of those actors' careers that their roles in this film don't go beyond a few scenes. Taking jobs in a film directed by the creator of the horrific Road Trip (an example of gross-out humor that doesn't work either) seems to have been a brave, though somewhat foolhardy move on both their parts. Director Todd Phillips has yet to create an enjoyable film, and it's a mystery as to why he has continuously been blessed with helming feature films. Given the scattered nature of the character development in this film (not that one should be looking for such a thing), it's questionable as to whether Phillips was even on the set during filming.

Mired in scene after scene of comedy that has nothing to do with plot or character, Old School meanders around hopelessly like a train without a set of tracks. The sequences of stupid college boys doing the stupid things college boys do just aren't funny. And although Will Ferrell owns the screen every moment he's on it, he's not featured enough in the film to make the overall experience satisfying. If anything, the only benefit to this film was Ferrell's inclusion in the cast. There was certainly no concerted effort to create really base, offending humor (which can be terrifically funny; just witness the first "American Pie" movie).

And it's almost laughable (in a purely ironic way) how the director attempted to include some meaningful discourse on male and female relationships. For a few split seconds in various scenes, there is an emphasis on the emotional effects of "men behaving badly" and how both sexes suffer when a relationship isn't going smoothly. But given that the performances in these pseudo-serious scenes aren't pulled off realistically, the audience has no choice but to rely on the brainless macho man humor of drunk college frat boys (which is lacking in its quantity anyway), for entertainment.

One wonders how a movie so lacking in comedic enjoyment can make it to the screen without falling into the black hole of direct-to-video feature film. Because that's exactly where this picture belongs. There are far too many instances when the fast-forward button is needed to create complete viewer enjoyment. By sitting in the theater an audience member eliminates the ability to bypass unfunny scenes and therefore prolongs his or her torture. The fact that this type of stupid humor can be hilarious is not under dispute here. In most respects, this film is a Will Ferrell Fest and all other comedians need not apply.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.

content 2000 - 2005 - ninth symphony films - photographs dreamworks 2003
home | archive | ratings | links | about | contact