On the eve of Homecoming weekend, the comedy classic” Animal House” was screened 7:30 p.m. Friday at The Egyptian Theatre, 135 N. Second St. The iconic film should be seen by the college audience it was made for, and there’s no better time than now.
The film features laughs galore, a chaotic climax and brilliant performances that propelled many actors to stardom, including Karen Allen, Kevin Bacon and Tom Hulce.
The film centers on Faber College’s rowdy fraternity Delta Tau Chi and the antics of its members. When rival fraternity Omega Theta Pi and the uptight Dean Wormer, played by John Vernon, try to stop their fun by means of “Double Secret probation,” the Deltas respond with even more pranks, drinking and, of course, a legendary toga party with a fantastic performance of “Shout” by Otis Day and the Knights.
Many of the actors are fantastic as the Deltas. Otter, played by Tim Matheson, spends most of his time chasing women. From pretending to be the heartbroken fiancée of a girl’s dead roommate to sleeping with the Dean’s wife, played by Verna Bloom, there’s nothing he won’t do.
Then, there’s the thrill-seeking D-Day, played by Bruce McGill, who rides a motorcycle, crashes cars and has the talent of playing Rossini’s “William Tell Overture” by flicking his throat. But, of course, the real scene stealer is Bluto, played by the late John Belushi, who is the definition of a party animal. He smashes beer cans on his head, downs an entire bottle of Jack Daniel’s and destroys a folk singer’s guitar.
The villains of the film are memorable and timeless. John Vernon does a wonderful job as the dean who tries to keep order on his campus. His line delivery is both threatening and hilarious because of how serious his performance is. One of the best examples of this is the line, “The time has come for someone to put his foot down, and that foot is me.”
The cocky Omega President Greg Marmalard and sadistic ROTC commander Doug Neidermeyer, played by James Daughton and Mark Metcalf, also stand out due to their comedic antics. From Greg’s impotence to Neidermeyer’s pronunciation of pledge pin, the duo have great talent for being both hated and loved by audiences.
The humor of the film is surreal and, at times, raunchy. One of the funniest scenarios is when Flounder, played by Stephen Furst, D-Day and Bluto sneak Neidermeyer’s horse into the dean’s office. D-Day gives Flounder a gun, loaded with blanks, and tells him to shoot the horse. Flounder points the gun in the air and fires, but the horse has a heart attack, prompting the three to run out of the building screaming their heads off.
The climax of the film is one of the best in comedy. After being expelled and feeling their lowest, Bluto rallies the fraternity with a very historically inaccurate speech which starts off with, “Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?” The Deltas proceed to wreak havoc on the Homecoming parade by sabotaging the floats, diverting the marching band and turning a car into “The Deathmobile,” which destroys several pieces of public property.
The most entertaining part is seeing what happens to the Deltas and the Omegas in the future, including Neidermeyer being killed in Vietnam by his own troops, D-Day currently having unknown whereabouts and Bluto becoming a U.S. Senator.
With hilarious jokes and lovable characters, “Animal House” is still relevant 40 years after its initial release.