Monday, May 16, 2016

Looking at Movies (Classic) - Animal House (1978)

(Note: The drive-in is a family experience and when I make decisions about the drive-in, I do so with my family in mind. My little ones are extremely susceptible to bad weather and getting sick, so I had to weigh the movie being released this week - Money Monster - with the potential for sick babies. The decision was a simple one. If it was still just my wife and I, then we would have gone. But the drive-in experience is a family one, and I made the right decision for my family. That is why this week's review is a classic movie. Thanks! GNR)

When a comedy marks the big screen, big studio debut of people who would go on to become comedy legends, then there is a good chance that movie is something special. Animal House showed that John Belushi could act in movies, and it also acted as the predecessor to great films such as Caddyshack, The Blues Brothers, Trading Places, and Ghostbusters. Many of the cast and crew from Animal House went on to become huge stars or important people in the movie business, but that is not the only thing that makes this movie great.

When John Landis and his cast and crew set out to make Animal House, they were not sure if the studio would allow the movie to be finished. That means that they definitely did not suspect they had a comedy classic on their hands. I find that the common thread of desperation (whether by budget cuts or from studio pressure) seems to run through all of the classic comedies. The coconuts in Monty Python and the Holy Grail were a result of not having enough budget for horses. I rest my case.

The first thing the cast did when it arrived at the set was to go party with a real frat. There were fights, there were police called, and there was all of the real inspiration Landis needed to get his cast to understand what they were doing. Once the cameras started rolling, with little or no rehearsal, the idea of Animal House fell together and create iconic comedy characters that are still popular today.

Along with the pressure-packed situation and soon to be legendary crew, let us also give credit to the cast for putting on performances that turned a borderline comedy movie idea into a classic. Everyone in the cast expected Belushi to steal the show because that is why he was cast into the movie, but John Belushi had plenty of help making Animal House a classic.

Unfortunately, it wasn't much of a stretch to ask Belushi to play the part of a drunken loudmouth who was the center of attention wherever he went. But it was that perfect fit for every cast member that helped to make Animal House the classic that it is.

Without Animal House, we basically do not get the run of classic comedies that dominated the 1980s. Without Animal House, the college landscape in the United States would be very different. Without Animal House, guys all over the United States would have less classic movie lines to quote in their every day conversations. Without Animal House, the world would be a very different place, and that is what makes this movie a classic.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

George N Root III is a drive-in fanatic who loves 1980s comedies. Follow him on Twitter @georgenroot3 or send him a message at Otis! My man! Send me a message!