May I present Manohla Dargis' review of Old School for The Los Angeles Times. What drew me to this article was a collection of one-liner movie reviews on msn.com. Ms. Dargis' review was summed up with: The disconnect between what men say and what they do makes "Old School" funnier than most of its gags and it also invests the movie with curious pathos. I suddenly grew ravenous for the thoughts of a woman who would use the word "pathos" when talking about a Wil Farrell movie and followed the link.
She starts off by comparing Old School and director Todd Phillips and co-writer Scot Armstrong's 2000 piece, Road Trip to Animal House, as any hack film theorist working for the LA Times is wont to do when faced with any movie having to do with college:
The story of college buddies on a cross-country sex mission, the earlier comedy played out as yet another iteration of "Animal House," minus the subversion. Filled with topless girls and Tom Green's witless mugging, it wasn't as funny as its progenitor not only because it didn't share "Animal House's" radical attitude toward authority, but also because its attitude toward women was distinctly square. Central to the anarchic spirit of "Animal House" was that no matter how much havoc the guys wrought, the girls never lagged far behind; the two sexes burned down the house together. The movie was National Lampoon without the menace or the politics, but "Road Trip" smelled like a moldering Playboy jokes page.
I see. So when the 13-year-old girl lied about her age to sleep with Larry "Pinto" Kroger, it was an empowering strike against the patriacrhial society in which the men in an all-male fraternity get to have all the fun. Let's just forget that she stuffed her bra with toilet paper in order to better fit the societal expectations for the female form, or ignore still the Nabokovian "nymphette" allusion therein. It's all about Katy getting as big a kick out of the boobie goldfish tank as Boone.
But there's more:
If [Phillips and Armstrong] trusted women as much as the Farrellys ("There's Something About Mary" is also about Mary) or, at least, didn't feel the need to flex their heterosexual anxiety, "Old School" might be as funny as they think.
Cameron Diaz as driving a comic force in Something About Mary as she is a driving force in getting my Neon out of the goddamn snow. The movie is *about* her, sure, but does Diaz do anything funny in it? She puts jiz in her hair. The comedy in that scene for anyone whose tastes have matured beyond guffawing at Steve Erkel is not in the sight gag of her hair sticking up, but in Stiller's incredulous discomfort with the situation. We learn that due to her life with her brother, she works with developmentally challenged people, but this is nothing more than a setup for a few retard jokes. She doesn't even get a good joke in when she's talking to her girlfriends; the other chick gets to deliver the "corn-fed whiteboy" line. Maybe if we found out more about the secondary characters' motivations in Old School, we wouldn't have to be exposed to such "heterosexual anxiety".
Frank doesn't just find it hard to accept that he's married; he can't believe he's a grown-up. Whether sucking beer through a rubber hose or hauling around a blowup doll, he moves through life with the helplessness of the newly born. He's one of those men who only settled down with one woman because another one booted him out of the womb. It's no wonder he looks scared -- he can't find his mommy.
I feel to add comment here would just be extraneous.
And just when you thought you had the perfect picture of a banal, rigid, humourless, vagina-staring puppet; just when you had confirmed to yourself that pulling out your fingernails at the root would be worth it to avoid spending one hour with this woman; just when you thought your mental image was crystal clear; she seals the deal:
even Ferrell, who gets the benefit of the film's more robust routines fails to scale the lunatic heights of his "Saturday Night Live" glory.
She thinks Will Farrel was funny on SNL.
"Can't we just watch Will and Grace?"