Frank the Tank!

Old School (2003) Review

Old School is one of those films where everyone involved raised their hand and exclaimed, “Oh man, it’d be so cool if this happened!” And then it was written into the script. So you end up with a series of short comedy bits loosely strung together by an uninspired plot. This is fine if you have short-term memory loss or your attention span only lasts five minutes, but if you’re looking for a fulfilling story – even within the terms of a juvenile sex comedy – you’ll be disappointed here.

Mitch Martin (Luke Wilson) comes home early from a business trip to find his wife in the middle of an orgy. With the help of his friends, Beanie (Vince Vaughn) and Frank (Will Ferrell), Mitch moves into a house near his old college. After a raging house party, the Dean of the college, Gordon (Jeremy Piven), declares as being for school use only. In order for Mitch to continue living there, Beanie turns Mitch’s home into a frat house, which wreaks havoc on Mitch’s social life in good and bad ways.

With a premise like this, there are a handful of “givens.” Drunken revelry is one. Nudity and sex are others. Characters making fools of themselves are also necessary. Old School has these ingredients and uses them to good effect, especially in the capable hands of funny actors doing what they do best. Vaughn snaps out his lines in rapid-fire staccato while Ferrell lumbers around hurting himself or jogging in the buff. There’s also a hilarious scene with Andy Dick, giving blowjob lessons, which is not only something fresh to the genre, but executed in a perfectly hysterical manner.

If Old School had just stuck with the basic formula, this could have been an excellent comedy. Regrettably, the filmmakers crammed in other elements that don’t pay off or, if they are paid-off, they’re not resolved in a satisfying way. For example, Mitch’s romantic interest is dating a jerk who cheats on her. Mitch makes a half-hearted attempt to break them up and fails. Later, she pops up in Mitch’s life again newly single, having resolved her love life off-screen by herself. Another time, Mitch unknowingly sleeps with his boss’ daughter, which would lead one to expect funny workplace tension. No luck there. Even the main plot is semi-resolved by a deus ex machina. On one hand, these criticisms don’t render the film unwatchable. On the other hand, throwing in these other plots to flesh the film out seems like an empty gesture that detracts from the movie.

Old School isn’t a great movie, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. The characters are loveable and individual scenes are pure comedic gold. It’s probably not worth the hour and a half investment to watch the entire thing in one sitting, but if you take it in chunks, Old School might be your perfect source for a quick laugh.