Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB
USA, 1978. Universal Pictures, Oregon Film Factory, Stage III Productions. Screenplay by Harold Ramis, Douglas Kenney, Chris Miller. Cinematography by Charles Correll. Produced by Ivan Reitman, Matty Simmons. Music by Elmer Bernstein. Production Design by John J. Lloyd. Costume Design by Deborah Nadoolman. Film Editing by George Folsey Jr.
The campus comedy that launched decades of imitators, and its combination of bawdy humour and innocent charm has rarely been duplicated since. Tom Hulce and Stephen Furst show up for freshman year prepared to pledge a fraternity, immediately rejected from the snooty Omega Theta Pi thanks to their not fitting in with the preppy rich kids. They are happily welcomed by Delta Tau Chi, a house in woeful disrepair whose members have little academic standing but know how to throw a great party. The Delta Taus are so wayward in supporting Faber College’s distinguished image that they are in danger of being dismantled by the dean (John Vernon) who has hated them for years.
Pranks galore result from the two fraternities trying to put each other out of business, many of them providing co-star John Belushi some marvelous opportunities to win laughs while barely uttering a word. Playing like a less ambitious American Graffiti, this origin story for all the raunchfests of the eighties and beyond has its story as a basic frame around which random comedy sketches revolve, taking place in the same era as Lucas’ classic and featuring the same ending but, in its irreverence, making the other film seem more sanctimonious. The cast features many early performances by actors who would be established later on, including Tim Matheson, Peter Riegert, and a lovely Karen Allen.