With this recent release of Animal House, celebrating its thirtieth anniversary, 2008 continues to be a year for more absolute classics to arrive in new DVD editions than any other. Of course it may just seem that way since I’ve tackled an array of John Hughes films and The Godfather trilogy in a little as two months, so it may just seem more intense than last year. Still, Animal House is an undisputable classic that countless comedies, whether other films about colleges or television shows, have pulled inspiration from.
Celebrate “seven years of college down the drain” with the 2-Disc 30th Annivesary Edition of National Lampoon’s Animal House. John Landis directs the legendary John Belushi as John “Bltuo” Blutarsky in this outrageous spoof of 1960s campus life. Follow the uproarious adventures of the Delta House fraternity as they take on Dean Wormer (John Vernon), the sanctimonious Omegas, and the entire female student body. Loaded with all-new, wild bonus material and featuring Belushi in the role that rocketed him to fame, this hilarious escapade also stars Kevin Bacon, Donald Sutherland and Karen Allen, along with Otis Day and the Knights performing their unforgettable rendition of “Shout.” Relive all the food fights, toga parties and racy good times in the 30th Anniversary Edition of National Lampoons Animal House –the most popular college comedy of all time!
I really tire of saying this but this is yet again another classic film that I’ve never seen. Growing up, National Lampoon wasn’t exactly the biggest thing in my household (we were more Mel Brooks focused when it came to comedies) and as such about the farthest we ever got was the Vacation films. Animal House never even crossed my mind as something to see until recent years when I realized I was missing this film in my comedy arsenal. With the brand new thirtieth anniversary edition just landing in stores, now was the time to get the film on DVD (as well as the latest release of it).
There’s a definite disconnect between watching this film now than compared to when it was popular and became a classic. The obvious difference is that, by now, college comedies are so much more vulgar and lewd that Animal House is tame in comparison. What it lacks in that department, however, it makes up for in the “classic” comedy area. Belushi especially fuels the entire film with an energy that is felt from beginning to end and is the driving force behind the film. When he isn’t pulling some antic on screen, it begins to peter out a bit, but eventually things return to their usual nutso state as he downs a bottle of Jack Daniels or sparks a food fight. They’re all very classic sounding bits by today’s standards and it’s easy to lose sight that this was a pioneer and benchmark film in many ways. Unfortunately I had this happen to me several times during it as other comedies, while not necessarily doing it better, have taken apart this film and cloned it in so many ways it’s hard to believe that this is the original film that inspired it all (the entire time I watched the film I kept getting flashes of the Futurama episode that spoofed nearly this entire film in about twenty-two minutes, which made this near two hour film seem slightly out of place to me).
But, that’s the drawbacks of viewing a thirty-year old film. If it’s designated a classic, then it’s going to be cloned and copied to the point where you can no longer watch the original without feeling like you’ve seen it all before. I’ve come up against this so many times as I watch droves of older films for the first time, but while I may have been disappointed with other films, I can say without a doubt that regardless of how “old” this film may feel, Animal House is still every bit deserving of its crown. It’s definitely the king of comedies and seeing it give life to so many other films (the majority of which are all inferior hack jobs, but hey) is a treat after all of these years. My sides may not have been splitting with laughter, but there was a smile on my face for the entire course of the film and I had many good moments of burst-out laughter in addition.
Overall this isn’t the review of Animal House you expected to read, I’m sure, but since I’m able to offer a somewhat unique review of it in comparison to most of what you’ll read online, I felt I should go that route instead of merely writing about what everyone and their mother has about this film. Sharp, witty and highly entertaining, Animal House is everything I thought it’d be based on the myriad of clones of it I’ve seen over the years—and that isn’t a bad thing. There’s no amount of praise I could give this film and seeing not only Belushi in the role that made him famous but also all of the rest of the cast, from Tim Matheson, John Vernon, Verna Bloom, Donald Sutherland, Kevin Bacon and Karen Allen, this film is a veritable treat to behold. It should go without saying, but this one is Highly Recommended.
Despite celebrating its thirtieth anniversary, Animal House isn’t exactly bursting with new content for this release. The description provided on the back of the box (as quoted in the second paragraph in this review) is a bit of a tease, as the only “new” content is the “Scene It?” extras on the first disc, which is just a small sampling of the popular DVD game. The set itself arrives in a standard two-disc amaray case, with an insert inside talking about some cell phone (yup) game based on the film and the discs themselves, the first of which is washed in red and the second is a simple reflective mirrored surface with blue writing and logos. Menus for both releases are the same.
Video for this release appears to be the same as the previous release from 2003, which is by no means a bad thing as that transfer remains quite impeccable to this day. It’s a little bit on the blurred and grainy side, but that’s to be expected from a film this old. Overall it looks quite remarkable on DVD and I’m a bit surprised a Blu-ray release didn’t accompany this release (considering it’d seen an HD-DVD release previously). The audio also appears to be ported over, with a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix surrounding the room with music and food fights. Since it’s a comedy it’s mostly front focused, but there are a few decent surround moments, albeit there are few. Then again I don’t think you watch this type of movie to test out your home theater, so you should be good. Alternate Spanish 5.1 and French DD2.0 tracks are available, as ar English SDH, Spanish and French subtitles.
Unfortunately for a film so loved, we don’t get too much here. The aforementioned Scene It! Pieces are the only new additions and we actually lose an extra (a trivia track) from the previous releases, although I assume that the Scene It? game is supposed to make up for that (it doesn’t). First up from the 2003 release is “Where Are They Now?” (23:23), a mockumentary featuring the original cast of the series, showing off where they are now and a “Theatrical Trailer” (2:46) rounds out the first disc of the set. The second disc is home to “The Yearbook: An Animal House Reunion” (45:17), an extra from 1998 and…that’s it. Yup, a whole second disc dedicated to one forty-five minute extra. The Scene It? game must’ve taken up a lot of room on the first disc, although I’m confident a little extra compression would’ve fit the two extras nicely onto one disc. Seems kind of a waste (and a tease) to offer this as a two-disc edition with only a paltry game as the added bonus.
Overall if you own the 2003 release, there’s no reason to pick this one up. Absolutely no reason at all; I would’ve hoped if they could’ve reunited some of the cast members in 2003 for their mockumentary that they could’ve rounded them up for a commentary, but alas…no dice. Save your money and wait for the fortieth anniversary, where, by then, we’ll have Blu-ray 3.0 with 9200p resolution and 12.1 audio. Or not, just hold onto your 2003 release and walk on by this one (even if the deluxe edition does come with a fancy Delta House shaped package).
Animal House: 2-Disc 30th Anniversary Edition is now available on DVD.