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September 3, 2008
FILM REVIEW: College
Gross, Gratuitous . . . and Good
Cross Ferris Buellerís Day Off with Animal House, and you
have a pretty good approximation of College, which opened over
Labor Day weekend.
Cross a juvenile, crude, often gross and usually gratuitous film with
surprisingly good acting and a pretty satisfying conclusion Ė and you
can get College that way too.
Letís be honest. Schindlerís List this is not. College is
not going to be cited by future generations as a film that lifted up the
better instincts of humanity, and Iím sure its creators will shed no
tears over this tragic shortcoming.
Deb Hagan directs a story written by Dan Callahan and Adam Ellison Ė
revolving around a fairly straight-laced high school senior named Kevin
(Drake Bell of Drake and Josh fame on Nickelodeon), who gets
dumped by his girlfriend for not being enough of a partier, and decides
to rebel against this misfortune by, you guessed it, becoming a partier!
That always works well.
His friends Carter (Andrew Caldwell) and Morris (Kevin Covais) convince
him to keep his existing plans for a college-orientation weekend, but
instead of staying in the dorm to which they are assigned, they finagle
an invitation to spend the weekend in a fraternity house. Little do they
realize, of course, being high school dorks, that the frat guys have
plans for them.
When they are not being humiliated with farm animals, duct taped to
statues naked or being forced to do body shots off a . . . er, well,
I canít relive the scene by writing about it . . . they are being
forced to do odd chores in service to their college masters.
The presentation of college life, especially for those in the fraternity
scene, will come across as over the top unless you actually went through
it. In reality, itís pretty true to life. The frat guys themselves are
cast as classic stereotypes, and very entertainingly so. Teague (Nick
Zano) is a sadistic narcissist who thinks he is Godís gift to women and
considers it his personal duty to harass and torture pretty much
everyone. Bearcat (Gary Owen) is a professional college party animal,
apparently long past the point where he should have graduated, but why
would he want to leave all this? For a job? Are you serious?
The film holds nothing back in his depiction of the gory details. You
want to see a toilet in its most disgusting state? You want to see body
hair in places it should never grow? You want to apply the laws of
physics to vomit as it splatters across the windshield of a car? (The
deanís car, no less.)
Youíve come to the right place! Throw in your share of breasts and a
hefty helping of alcohol consumptions, and youíve pretty much got the
activity that goes on during the first five minutes of your typical
And yet, there is actually depth to the film. Kevinís over-reaction to
being dumped is predictable enough, but his character is interesting and
Bell plays the role exceedingly well. Even when Kevin is most out of
control, you never forget that this is essentially a responsible kid
whoís blowing off some steam. You also donít forget there are often
consequences for doing so.
Carter is a big loudmouth who talks a better game than he backs up,
while Morris is a nerd who is in line for a scholarship before his
misadventures get in the way of a scheduled interview with the college
mucky-mucks. All three are forced by the events of the weekend to
confront their feelings about themselves and about each other. Yes, I
know, I know, that is clichť to the max Ė but only because itís a
classic storyline, and when done well (as it is here), it never ceases
to be compelling.
Less plausible is how these three dorkwads end up attracting three of
the hottest college girls on campus. Carterís catch is particularly, how
shall we say, out of his league Ė and all he has to do to snag her is
give her his beer.
Where was that when I was in college?
But like I said, this isnít a hugging-and-learning movie, so you can
count on a conclusion that takes everything gratuitous thatís happened
and raises it to another level.
will not win any Oscars, unless they give them out for grossness, but
considering the genre, itís a surprisingly well-acted and respectable
effort. It beats waking up next to the toilet. I would think.
Three stars out of four
© 2008 North Star Writers
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