Nowadays, we may see director Todd Philips as something of a true artist with his work on 'Joker' and three Oscar nominations under his belt for it. But before he decided to blow us all away with sheer talent, he was best known as something of a "frat boy" director, tackling films like 'Road Trip', the 'Hangover' trilogy and this, which because something of a classic in its own right.
Released in 2003, this became the big college movie of its time, and it seemed to last for quite a while. In many ways, I found this to be my generation's answer to 'Animal House'. The funny thing is that it's not really a college movie. It just takes place on a college campus. It's also something of a benchmark for comedic actors, but more on that later.
The film centers mainly on thee close friends. Mitch Martin (Luke Wilson), who has just broken up with his girlfriend, Heidi (Juliette Lewis); Frank "The Tank" (Will Ferrell), who is soon to be wed to the lovely Marissa (Perrey Reeves); and the not-so-blissfully married to Lara (Leah Remini) father of two, "Beanie" (Vince Vaughn). After the breakup, Mitch moves into a new home located just off the campus of Harrison University. There, Beanie has a party in Mitch's honour to house-warm as well as get him back on the dating horse.
The party is a huge success, but their new hopes fade when the college dean, Gordon Pritchard (Jeremy Piven) shows up to ruin the fun. Gordon happens to be someone they used to pick on, and throughout the film tries whatever it takes to get them kicked off the grounds. It all starts by telling them the house is for college use only, and this causes the trio to create a fraternity in the hopes that they can stay. All the while, Mitch tries to make a good impression on his old high school crush, Nicole (Ellen Pompeo), who he runs into at Frank's wedding. However, slowly becoming a campus legend seemingly stands in the way.
Going back to what I mentioned about this being a sort of benchmark movie for comedic actors, it's a good example of a title that seemed to give all three of these guys the boost they needed for mass recognition. In fairness, we all knew who these guys were from various other things, going into this movie. But there was something about the collective of these three that seemed to just work right, and each of them, I might suggest, was far more recognizable after this was released. I suppose, however, it depends on their respective fans. Speaking for myself, that was my experience.
As usual, there are a couple of things here and there that might seem dated, but it's not enough to ruin a good time. This is a great movie to get the guys together for, along with a bunch of beer and have a guy's night in. Of all the titles I've put on this list of "drink-along" titles, it's probably the one I'd recommend highest to the masses, where your taste doesn't have to be all too specific like it might with 'Beerfest' or 'Strange Brew'. It's still a lot of fun after all these years, and it's interesting to watch again, being closer to the ages of these guys now than I was almost 20 years ago. In my opinion, it's most definitely the 'Animal House' of my generation.