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Paramount Home Video presents

Old School: Unrated and Out of Control HD-DVD (2003)

"We're streaking. We're going through the quad and into the gymnasium."- Frank the Tank (Will Ferrell)

Stars: Luke Wilson, Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn
Other Stars: Ellen Pompeo, Juliette Lewis, Lea Remini, Perrey Reeves, Craig Kilborn, Jeremy Piven, Elisha Cuthbert, Patrick Cranshaw, Harve Presnell, Snoop Dogg, Seann William Scott, James Carville, Andy Dick
Director: Todd Phillips

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nudity, language, sexuality, comic violence, drug use, Will Ferrell)
Run Time: 01h:31m:50s
Release Date: 2007-11-27
Genre: comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer


DVD Review

It is with heavy heart that your reviewer faced yet another Will Ferrell film that alleges to be a comedy. Unfortunately, the dread was well placed. Despite an accomplished cast, Old School manages to be unfunny and uninteresting, without much to recommend it in any sense. But if you wanted it with more nudity than in the theaters, you've come to the right place.

Ferrell actually is more of a supporting character, which helps make him a little more palatable than when he's trying to carry a picture. The lead is actually Luke Wilson as real estate lawyer Mitch, who returns home to find his wife (Juliette Lewis) hosting an orgy, to which he is not invited. He moves out into a house on the local campus, and his friends Frank "the Tank" (Ferrell) and eager electronics hawker Beanie (Vince Vaughn) convince him that what he needs to get back into circulation is to turn his house into a fraternity. After pulling all manner of odd characters, including an aged duffer known as "Blue" (Patrick Cranshaw), the frat runs afoul of the Dean (Jeremy Piven), who has hated Mitch, Frank and Beanie since childhood. Pritchard attempts several methods of shutting the frat down, including the predictable gambit of the frat having to pass its classes.

In essence this is a low-rent remake of Animal House without the humor, charm or skill. With the exception of a few gross-out gags that manage to inspire a horrified chuckle, notably an initiation stunt gone horribly wrong, there's nothing that triggers anything resembling a laugh. The closest that the movie comes to a humorous setup is a short segment featuring Andy Dick as an oral sex instructor who gets the female characters to practice using various vegetables. If your idea of a funny bit is seeing a group of actresses simulating fellatio with carrots and cucumbers (including a startlingly massive one sure to trigger Freudian envy), then this is your picture.

Wilson is essentially colorless and lacking in sympathy as he slogs along at the behest of his demented friends, neither of whom seems to have anything but sex and alcohol in mind. Ferrell is numbingly awful, with the highlight of his performance being a signature streaking scene that is truly wince-inducing. Vaughn comes off the best, with a few decent character bits as he attempts to balance his frat life with some affection for his young children, though it doesn't stop him from fruitlessly pursuing infidelity wherever he can. The women are just furniture, with the exception of the Andy Dick scene, clucking disapprovingly at the juvenile leads and their supposedly madcap adventures that are pretty much just one drunk scene after another. Seann William Scott gets in an amusing cameo as an animal trainer who accidentally shoots Ferrell with an animal tranquilizer.

There's little of socially redeeming value here, including any sort of laughs to be found. The only redeeming quality is that it has a short running time. Avoid at all costs.

Rating for Style: D-
Rating for Substance: F


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The widescreen image is reasonably good, without noticeable edge enhancement. There's some good detail throughout, and shadow detail in the darker sequences is particularly fine. There might be some digital noise reduction going on, however, since skin tones often look a little waxy and there isn't much fine detail visible.

Image Transfer Grade: B

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
English, French, Spanishyes

Audio Transfer Review: The DD+ 5.1 audio tracks are acceptable, with the rock soundtrack coming across fine and with good range. Surround activity is rather limited except for the music.

Audio Transfer Grade:

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
3 TV Spots/Teasers
8 Deleted Scenes
2 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by director Todd Phillips, Luke Wilson, Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn
Packaging: Elite
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Outtakes and bloopers
Extras Review: In an effort to make this piece of junk more salable, a wide variety of extras are slapped on, starting with a commentary from director Todd Phillips and the three main stars. Unfortunately, their commentary is just as unfunny as the movie, and they bicker about facts they can't remember and drop names in between narration of what's onscreen. There are eight deleted scenes totalling 12m:52s that make Beanie a good deal more unsympathetic than he is in the final film. Ferrell does get in a line that fits the situation nicely: "What's so funny? There's nothing funny." There's a featurette that has an EPK feel to it, Old School Orientation (13m:02s), and a silly spoof of Inside the Actors Studio featuring Ferrell as James Lipton. It does offer a few laughs, however, making it at least tolerable by comparison. There are a set of outtakes and bloopers totalling 5m:04s, a trailer and three television spots. Only the trailer is presented in HD format.

Extras Grade: B-

Final Comments

In the Will Ferrell tradition of being unfunny, stupid and pointless, Old School wastes an enormous amount of talent. The transfer is adequate, and if you really want them, there are generous extras.

Mark Zimmer 2008-07-25