It's never pleasant to watch something die, no matter how disconnected or detached the bond between you and the expiring entity. Take a mangy old mutt, for example. No matter if its name is Marley and pounces around like a lame, predictable slapstick comedian most of the time. Witnessing his demise in a slow, 10 minute, 12 handkerchief bit of Hollywood manipulation is no day at the dog park. Or what about a proposed coming of age sex comedy with the entire scintillating secondary education experience available as a backdrop? Could be another Animal House, right? Oh how wrong you are frat house toilet breath! College came and went last August, a dreary, unfunny effort aimed at the back to sleeping through class crowd. Instead, it sunk like a stone, supporting the position that when something is experiencing the most painful of death throws, there's nothing a viewer can do but give up their own ghost and call for the last rights - or in this case, shutting the damn DVD off.
When his high school sweetie breaks up with him because he's just no gosh-darn fun, feeb Kevin Brewer decides to party like its 1999. Or maybe 1979. With a pending visit to Fieldmont University on the horizon, he hooks up with his boys Carter (fatso) and Morris (nerd) and heads out for the weekend of his life. When they learn that their assigned dorm room is occupied by some perv addicted to barnyard porn, they hit the frat houses looking for some free room and board. Unfortunately, the tools over at Who Givesa Crap recruit them as pre-fosh pledges. Putting them through all sorts of demeaning and disgusting pranks and rituals, our trio tries to have a good time. Things get a little better when they hook up with sorority gals Kendall, Heather, and Amy. Of course, this makes the supposedly super-cool college guys very, very mad. They determine to destroy our high schoolers potential pleasure seeking once and for all.
You remember those acquaintances you had, either in school or on the job, who believed they were God's gift to humor? Remember how they would insert themselves into a group of people (unprepared as they were for the interloper's supposed comedic genius) and commence to riffing on minorities, mothers, dead babies, sex, blond chicks, genitalia, mothers-in-law, wives, girlfriends, butts, rectal gas, and gay people with little or no consideration for what was politically correct, socially acceptable, or personally tolerable? And remember how they would just go on and on and on, fueled by the occasional uncomfortable snicker or the discovery of a like minded moron, similar to themselves? Well that's College in a nutshell. Someone cast two complete nimrods - American Idol's Kevin Covais and obligatory chubster Andrew Caldwell - placed them alongside recognizable Nick face Drake Bell, and told them all to act like idiots. Only the first two complied, borrowing much of their material from a certain McLovin and a guy who was obsessed with penises as a kid. Recognize the Superbad reference? Then you've already seen this humorless junk.
Clearly, newbie director Deb Hagan - A girl? Creating a teen male fantasy film that exploits women? How Amy Holden Jones of her - thought that she had found the next Jonah Hill and Christopher Mintz-Plasse. Allowing both Caldwell and Covais to improv like monkeys hopped up on Benzedrine laced bananas, we get endless scenes of two inexperienced actors trying to crack wise. They only end up sounding insipid. The former is particularly offensive, his curse-word laced cut downs reminding the viewer of the bully who's best comeback was typically "Oh yeah?!?!?" Whether it's requesting a fart from a fetching female co-ed, or drinking beer out of some guy's buttcrack, Caldwell can't produce a single belly laugh. It's the same with his uber-dork costar. There are times when we actually feel bad for Morris, if only because his parents wasted the sperm and egg to create him. As a character, he's simultaneously whiny and wounded, always a guaranteed guffaw getter. Only Bell semi-survives, and that's because he's clearly a talented performer significantly sidetracked by horrendous script offers.
Still, a film which celebrates naked breasts, inebriation, Greek life, individual irreverence, casual copulation, drunken babes, blatant homophobia (and it's constant companion, closeted homoeroticism), and Vern Troyer can't totally suck, right? In actuality, College blows like a loose sorority. It starts out lame and gets lumbering from there. Hagan piles on at the beginning, maximizing all of her poop, poon, and piss joke seemingly at once. This then leaves plenty of time for our trio of trim seekers to get all touchy feely at the end. They do spend inordinately large amounts of time going "bro" on each other. They even play extended make-up with the way out of their league honeys who somehow get warm for their form. Sure, you may laugh once (Mini-Me slapping around a douchey frat ass and calling him a 'bitch' has got to be worth a chuckle), and may actually see some of yourself, or at the very least, the guys you constantly picked on in gym class, in our hapless, horny heroes. But unlike Porky's which was blatant in its pursuit of pulchritude, or the aforementioned John Landis standard, College can't begin to compete. Instead, it flunks out before the first pop quiz.
Alas, we are once dealing with the dreaded "Screener Copy for Review" dynamic when discussing this DVD. Fox (and its co-conspirator, MGM), clearly don't care if critics get something close to final product when they review their wares. Safe to say, whatever assessment is given regarding the 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen image proposed, what arrives if and when you actually buy a copy of College is another issue all together. What we have here looks good, except for the occasional flashing of the 20th Century logo, with bright colors, a nice level of detail, and carefully controlled contrasts abounding. It really does resemble a quality cinematic experience. Too bad then that, in this case, looks are very, very deceiving.
Director Hagan's desire to feature every unsigned navel-gazing Juno wannabe soft rockers emo core punk hacks on the soundtrack actually gives the Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround mix something to goof around with. The dialogue is always discernible (lucky us) and the recording was clearly handled with professionalism and polish. Don't expect much, and you'll be satisfied. Again, this was a Screener copy of the film. Actually B&M mileage - and tech specs - may vary.
Offered in both the R-rated Theatrical Version and an "Unrated" DVD edition (since this critic did not see the film when it hit his local Cineplex, he assumes the minor added material centers around sex, drinking, drugs, and intoxicated buttheads going to the toilet), the home video package for College offers no other added content. The gag reel mentioned on the menu is actually part of the credits once the film ends. The only other bonus features included is a pair of shoulder shrugging trailers. Par for its pathetic performance at the box office, this disc is practically bare bones.
Clearly, it's easy to downgrade, destroy, and dismiss College. Any potential it had to be funny, clever, insightful, or merely tolerable went out the window the minute the mohawked kid from the trailer with the mile a minute rap delineated to our heroes every awful/fun/adventurous thing he did during his own university visit. At that very moment, any hope you have for this film will begin to curl up and die a horrible, heinous death. No matter the amount of slack you cut it, or the blood alcohol (or THC) level you induce before experiencing it, you'll feel the god-awful grief growing on you. Sure, some in the proposed adolescent demo may find it fun, but a Rent It would suggest a broader appeal that's just not there. In essence, this is a Skip It, pure and simple. There are much healthier ways to experience the end of life than watching this waste of matriculation. There isn't even a community level of laughter in this College.
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