Before the millions of utterly atrocious rip-offs, there was the first, there was the only, there was the grand daddy of college campus comedies, there was “Animal House” Set in 1962, John Landis’ comedy masterpiece tells the tale of two new college recruits attempting to pledge to an elite fraternity. They’re basically cast aside from the elitist frat house, so they must now pledge to the worst frat on college, the Delta House to which they’re instantly accepted amidst the dysfunctional and odd array of members. But when they cause a ruckus and fail to live up the school’s academic standards, the dictatorial Dean Wormer decides to close down the house once and for all.
“Animal House” garners within it an enthusiasm and pure summation of what made National Lampoon’s such a treasure for many years. No other movie has yet to influence comedy and pop culture like “Animal House” has with the trend of college toga parties and food fights that became a craze shortly after. From the cast of great characters actors, the chemistry between the characters, the utterly hysterical high jinks and pranks elicited by the Delta House, and John Belushi, director John Landis has created a slew of characters we could relate to, while also helping us laugh at slackers.
“Animal House” brings the spirit of mischief to the big screen with a great screenplay by Harold Ramis, Douglas Kenny, and Chris Miller all of whom bring to life an array of wild and odd characters, as well as villains we love to hate. There are also a gallery of many memorable scenes (too much to mention), including the climactic parade scene, Bluto’s spying on the girls sorority atop a ladder, the meat stuffing scene in the super market, the laugh out loud lunch room fight and so much more. “Animal House” is a rare extinct breed of comedy where the humor was all about timing and strong performances, and less about gross out gags and referential humor.
The world of the Delta House is smack dab in the beginning of the sixties, but the themes of rebellion, and seeking to maintain one’s individuality remains universal, above all else. “Animal House” presents a shade of John Landis as a comedy director of pure monumental proportions who not only understood the genre he was filming, but the limits and heights that kept his cast glued together to form such a raucous hysterical picture. “Animal House” is the spirit of National Lampoon, as well as the voice of a generation that sought to turn college in to an experience where they came of age and decided their futures as people, not just workers. It’s a masterpiece.