National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978)

Rating: C

Dir: John Landis
Star: John Belushi, Tim Matheson, Tom Hulce, John Vernon

Popular culture has absorbed and digested much of the content here. What was once shocking now seems tame, though to some extent the reverse is also true: hazing freshmen, booze and the molestation of female students are somewhat frowned upon on most modern campuses. Or so I’m informed – to a British audience, this remains as much a portrait of an alien society as any anthropological documentary. Beyond the music, there’s hardly any period feel, despite the 1962 setting; you do get a nice sense of escalation to events.

You can’t help but root for John Belushi and the Delta house slobs, as they take on authority in the shape of John Vernon’s wonderfully evil dean and the other fraternities (including a very young Kevin Bacon). Their war builds to a climax at the Homecoming Parade – whatever one of those is – when the now-expelled Deltas take their revenge. If the film has a point, it’s that the hard-partying characters go on to long and happy lives, while the straight-edgers fail in life – unfortunately, John Belushi kinda failed to live up to his own example… From a 2000 viewpoint, this is like listening to a Sex Pistols album: it’s fun, yet hard to see now what the fuss was about.