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"Old School" Review


Title: Old School

Starring: Luke Wilson, Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn, Juliette Lewis, Ellen Pompeo

Written by: Scot Armstrong, Todd Phillips, Court Crandall

Directed by: Todd Phillips

Rating: R for some strong sexual content, nudity and language.

Review by Stephen Silver

In the tradition of "There's Something About Mary" and the first "American Pie," the new film "Old School" is a juvenile comedy that works because its characters are likeable and its heart is in the right place. It also represents a triumph by a trio of talented young comedic actors who had until now not lived up to their potential as comic leading men.

"Old School" stars Luke Wilson, Vince Vaughn, and Will Ferrell as 30ish buddies who seek to get over their suburban yuppie malaise by returning to their alma mater and starting a fraternity. The film was directed by Todd Phillips, who previously made both the documentary "Frat House" and the popular college comedy "Road Trip"; he's surpassed both here.

Wilson and Vaughn both made their debuts in hilarious 1996 comedies ("Bottle Rocket" and "Swingers," respectively) yet Wilson has since been unimpressive in non-Wes Anderson films, and Vaughn has never come close to his "Swingers" heights. And while Ferrell was the best thing about "Saturday Night Live" for many years, his comedic genius has thus far not translated well to movies.

"Old School" represents a return to form for all three. Wilson's the same befuddled romantic straight man as in the three Anderson films, Vaughn is essentially playing his "Swingers" character to the hilt again after his unsuccessful version of same in "Made," and Ferrell's playing the screaming, rampaging "crazy guy" that he does best.

At the film's center are a series of hilarious setpieces- the best of which is a :"kidnapping" sequence set to Metallica's "Master of Puppets." The film's musical choices are all impeccable, from a wedding band performing a foul-mouthed version of Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart," to a recurring motif of Whitesnake's "Here I Go Again" (at one point even played instrumentally; unfortunately Tawny Kitaen was not available for a cameo).

Another entertaining thing about "Old School" is the way it pays tribute to previous films of the genre. The fraternity/party sequences recall "Animal House"; "PCU" hellraiser Jeremy Piven shows up here as the evil dean; Wilson, a school-activities montage sequence, and the girl who played Margaret Yang are borrowed from "Rushmore;" there's a 'Graduate' homage, and a couple of speeches by Vaughn seem to come directly from "Swingers."

It may not be high-minded or highbrow, but "Old School" is great for what it is, and that is a hilarious, winning college comedy. With adults.

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