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The Independent Critic

John Belushi, Tim Matheson, Tom Hulce, Stephen Furst, Karen Allen, Kevin Bacon
John Landis
Harold Ramis, Chris Miller and Douglas Kenney
109 Mins.
Universal Pictures
 "Animal House" Review 
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Admit it.

You have a film that is a guilty pleasure. You have a film that you know damn well isn't perfect...may not even qualify as good. Yet, you can't resist it. You simply can't resist it. It may be a "feel good" flick or a comedy or a stupid film or a silly film or a kid's film or a tearjerker. Everyone has a different guilty pleasure, BUT nearly everyone has a guilty pleasure.

"Animal House" is my guilty pleasure. This 1979 National Lampoon film starring John Belushi and a host of others is about as guilty a pleasure as I can find. It makes me laugh each and every time I see it...the soundtrack gets me tapping and singing and screaming along with it each and every time I see the film.

For those who live in a cave and may have never seen "Animal House," it is the story of the Delta House at Faber College. The Delta House is comprised of a raunchy group of frat rejects, nerds, outcasts and party animals that have ended up on double secret probation thanks to one prank too many.

Of course, "Animal House" is a National Lampoon, that pretty much guarantees lowbrow humor, silliness and a bunch of gags that simply don't work. Yet, in "Animal House" the vast majority of the gags work and the cast is so high-spirited and fun that I find myself even appreciating the scenes that don't quite work. The film was the perfect vehicle for the late comedian John Belushi, allowing him to cut loose and, essentially, play himself. With the exception of "Blues Brothers," Belushi seemed to always end up cast in roles where it might work but it almost seemed awkward. This film simply worked.

The film also features one of my favorite actors in Tom Hulce, who plays the new frat recruit "Larry," who ends up bedding down with a well-endowed WAYYYYY older looking young teen. The scene, which should offend me, is so played for laughs that I found myself remembering a particular girl I really shouldn't have been with, as well. (thankfully, she was not a young teen. yikes).

Also included in the cast are a few stars early in their careers such as Kevin Bacon, Karen Allen, Stephen Furst (who really topped out at Flounder), Tim Matheson and also Donald Sutherland. All work well (and play well) together.

If one watches this film expecting greatness, well there will be great disappointment. In fact, I'd have to say that this film achieves nearly a perfect rating from me not so much because of its technical perfection but because of its nearly perfect impact on my life over the past 25 years. I've been watching this film at least annually for 25 years and every single time it brings a smile to my face and makes me laugh and allows me to relax. Quite simply, it is a lowbrow, comedy classic.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic