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Film School

5. Revenge Of The Nerds

Being considered an outsider has never been easy, but 1984s Revenge Of The Nerds make these acts of cruelty purely entertaining. The film is not insensitive to nerds or geeks; in fact, it turns these lame duds into the movie’s studs. At Adams College a duo of misfits, Gilbert and Lewis, are constantly made the butt of jokes by the brothers of Alpha Beta, but that comes to a stop when the dorks decide to strike back. The conflict only worsens as the fraternity brothers burn down the dormitory leaving all the freshmen temporarily without a place to sleep. Despite spawning three mildly successful sequels, the original stands alone as a comic supernova that contains all the elements needed to earn this comedy a slot on the top five. It is still quoted nearly 20 years after its initial release.

— Pablo Saldana

4. National Lampoon’s Animal House

Animal House (1978) started it all; the drinking, adolescent high-jinx and attitude that has filled college-themed comedies for the last 25 years. The film focuses on the misadventures of the Delta fraternity and the dean who is determined to have them thrown out. The movie made former Saturday Night Live alum John Belushi a household name just for being a completely obnoxious slob. Animal House recently returned to shelves as the “Double Secret Probation Edition DVD,” which was released to celebrate the film’s 25th anniversary and can probably be found in every fraternity house on every campus. Animal House was National Lampoon’s first release; and for the past quarter century they have constantly tried to repeat the film’s success with forgettable entries such as Class Reunion and most recently 2001’s Van Wilder.

— PS

3. Real Genius

Before raising a few eyebrows in Top Gun, Val Kilmer gained notoriety in the 1985 college cult hit Real Genius. Mitch (Gabriel Jarret) is one of the youngest students accepted to a university. He is teamed with Chris (Val Kilmer) on a science project to develop a laser. Together, a group of intellectual misfits create elaborate practical jokes and explore exactly what genius is. The plot isn’t a unique idea, but the execution is brilliant. Genius is a nice surprise for those expecting a cheesy teen comedy as it delivers clever one-liners and a healthy dose of timeless humor. While the movie’s fashion and slang is dated, the overall product is something that after 18 years is still unmatched for sheer comical approach of the subject. Kilmer’s sophomoric screen attempt is worthy of the $3.99 rental fee or the pricetag of the DVD. That’s right, you can now make it part of your own collection.

— PS

2. Old School

Beginning with Will Ferrell running naked through town (which may show a little bit more than audiences want to see) and ending with K-Y Jelly half-nude wrestling, Old School covers all grounds, from the obscene and crude to the truly innovative and clever. Starring Saturday Night Live graduate Ferrell, Luke Wilson and Vince Vaughn, Old School is about three guys past their college years, who, by chance, land a house near campus property. They begin a fraternity, partly for their own enjoyment and partly due to rules imposed by the college’s dean (played by Jeremy Piven in a role reversal from 1994’s PCU). But things get a bit complicated as time and parties progress into the school year, and the brotherhood must fight to stay alive. The plot seems trivial, but the movie, while certainly lacking depth and meaning, is not. It is a pure example of comic genius from writer/director Todd Phillips (Road Trip).

— Olga Robak

— This is an excerpt from a full review published in ‘scene’ on February 20, 2003.

1. PCU

A high school senior checking out colleges is a necessary sacrifice, but nothing compares to the pure anarchy that is portrayed in 1994’s PCU. The student goes to visit Port Chester (aka Political Correctness University), but the administration mistakenly places him with seven-year student and party animal Droz (Jeremy Piven) in the Pit. The Pit is the loudest, most offensive house on campus, and the president and her lackey (David Spade) plot to get the Pit thrown off campus. The cast creates an irresistible chemistry that draws viewers into the movie, and Spade’s supporting role is a major highlight of the film. Piven embodies the party animal image that helps to propel the movie into something more than just another slapstick comedy that seems to come off forced. PCU is a Friday night essential for every college student and a guilty pleasure for others. Where Animal House and Revenge Of The Nerds offers the same cheap laughs and situational humor, PCU takes the next step in creating a comedy that delivers sidesplitting hilarity with fewer dull moments and the contrived motivation that fills other films in the genre.

— PS