Animal House

Animal House (John Landis, 1978)

At a 1962 College, Dean Vernon Wormer is determined to expel the entire Delta Tau Chi Fraternity, but those troublemakers have other plans for him.

In my quest of watching every film on the list of the 1000 Greatest films of all time of the always pertinent folks at They Shoot Pictures Don’t They?, and my big interest in comedies it was about time that I watch John Landis’ Animal House. Starring the gone too young John Belushi, a very young Kevin Bacon, Donald Sutherland in a small role, and other lesser known actors like Tom Hulce, Stephen Furst, Karen Allen, and many others.

Written by Harold Ramis, Douglas Kenney, and Chris Miller Animal House sets the standard of everything a College party comedy would have. It gave multiple follow-ups and rarely better and often worse teenage comedies involving drinking, sex, partying, etc. From Porky’s to American Pie, every College comedy must give credit to Animal House. Many comments on the film criticize the lack of laughs and the unoriginality of the whole thing. One must remember that it has been so many times replicated and every joke has been reused so much that they are practically worn out.

The story is quite simple and the situations are built up leading to jokes and moments. Set in 1962, the film doesn't has a vibe of being in the past and this is probably a quality. It is also set in fraternities, something I did not experienced in my College or University years but I could relate to some behaviors of my time at the College. It is sad that for a first time viewer in 2012 many scenes seem to felt flat.  While other moments were probably very funny at the time they are so predictable because Landis and his comedies have forged the comedy of today and as viewers we can see where they are going.

The best moment is the Otis Day show with the song Shout. It is during the biggest party of the movie and the moment almost make me got up in my living room and scream the lyrics out loud in front of my TV screen. It is also very interesting that Landis let the moment and keep the scene long without any other action than the music and the people singing together.

Animal House is one of the films listed on AFI’s 100 Laughs, and having only seen 46 of the 100 listed I’ve decided that I could sometime try to tackle and complete this list of classics. Since I am working on many lists, TSPDT 1000 Greatest films aforementioned and some titles are on both lists I could actually try to complete more than one tasks at a time. However, being on the 1000 GF list at number 683 I thought that the heritage of the movie might be the main reason why it is listed there. Because, I liked Animal House but I feel that it is a surprising entry when compared to Abbas Kiarostami’s The Wind Will Carry Us (#682) and Ernst Lubitsch’s Angel (#687) or Akira Kurosawa’s Red beard (#691). This movie is worth a look.


  1. Nice review, Michaël. I enjoyed Animal House, and felt that it had some great comic moments, even if the movie as a whole didn't add up to much. Definitely a product of its time.

    1. Thank you Barry! Exactly, a product of its time with great comic moments.


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