National Lampoon's Animal House (DVD, 2003, Double Secret Probation Edition; Full Frame) Reviews

National Lampoon's Animal House (DVD, 2003, Double Secret Probation Edition; Full Frame)

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Fat, Drunk, And Stupid Is No Way To Go Through Life, Son!

Apr 29, 2004 (Updated May 5, 2004)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Belushi at his best with tons of quotable lines and just downright hilarious

Cons:Loose plot (who really cares though?)

The Bottom Line: Animal House is a classic that created the gross-out genre. However, nothing beats the original.


Sometimes movies are just meant to be fun. They aren’t supposed to educate, commentate or inform. You’re just supposed to sit back and enjoy the flick. Many times, these films are considered to be of lesser quality than their deeper counterparts. I would never suggest that Fletch is as monumental of a film as The Godfather. However, I enjoyed both of them immensely. National Lampoon's Animal House is a similar type of film. The Delta House entertained, grossed us out and reeked havoc upon the Faber campus without so much as an apology and god bless them for it.

Animal House focuses on the educational pursuits of the students at fictional Faber College. We follow them from the library, to the classroom, to the lecture circuit with plenty of poetry readings and protests to pass the time. They are all high quality individuals who are looking to learn and enrich their lives via the college experience.

FOOD FIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Whoa, I’m not quite sure what happened there. Actually, Animal House focuses on many of the other, less studious, aspects of the college experience. There is drinking, drinking, and more drinking. There are some pranks included as well as a few parties and some good nature hazing just to top the movie off.

We begin the film with Larry (Tom Hulce) and Kent (Stephen Furst) trying to pledge a fraternity on campus. They have no luck at the uptight Omega house, but luckily they stumble upon the Delta house. Kent’s brother was a member, so he’s sure to get in. At least, that’s what he thinks. The Delta’s are clearly the party fraternity and the guys love the exciting atmosphere.

The Delta house is made up of several unique characters. There is the playboy, Otter (Tim Matheson), the loser, Bluto (John Belushi), the immature guy, Boon (Peter Riegert) and the rebel, D-Day (Bruce McGill). They get through college doing the bare minimum. They cheat on tests during the day and party during the night.

Unbeknownst to the Delta’s, they are placed on “double secret probation” by the crusty old Dean Wormer (John Vernon). He enlists some of the Omegas to help bring down the Delta house. The Deltas are no match for the Omegas and are quickly banished from campus. In a final assault against the establishment, they plot to disrupt the school’s homecoming parade and prove to be supremely successful.

If it doesn’t sound like much happens in Animal House, you’d be right. However, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t an entertaining film. In fact, it’s probably one of the funniest films ever. There a too many hilarious scenes to describe, but needless to say, you want to take special interest in the opening moments when all of the characters are introduced as well as the trip to the “sister” college for a night out for the boys.

The cast of Animal House is made up of many stars, while well known now, were relative unknowns at the time. However, everyone seems right at home in his or her roles. John Belushi has perhaps his best role as the drunkard Bluto. He’s gross, fat and strangely lovable. He doesn’t have a lot of lines, but the ones he has are definite classics…

“Grab a brew, don’t cost nothin’”
“They took the bar! The whole ****** bar”


And of course his scenes in the cafeteria and the “Pearl Harbor” speech are worth the price of the entire movie. Tim Matheson is wonderful as the hypersexual rush captain Otter who’s always looking for the big score. Tom Hulce and Stephen Furst play the freshmen rushies with such innocence and sweetness that you can almost picture yourself in their place.

There are too many supporting roles to completely analyze all of them. Rest assured, they are all top notch. Donald Sutherland is great as the pot head professor, Karen Allen plays the long suffering girlfriend of Boon with such glee and sweetness, James Daughton’s performance as the smarmy Greg Marmalard is great and John Vernon’s Dean Womer is as underhanded as is possible yet still hilarious to watch.

The real geniuses of Animal House may be both John Landis and Harold Ramis. Landis directs the film perfectly, making sure that each actor gets the appropriate screen time and getting perfect performances out of each of him or her. Ramis, along with his co-writers, has written the perfect gross out comedy. Sure, this film spawned many a poor clone. However, when perfection is achieved it should be celebrated and Ramis has achieved it.

In 2003, Animal House finally received the treatment that it deserved. The “Double Secret Probation Edition” was released. You could finally throw away your VCR tape or old bare bones DVD copy and experience something new. The new version is a drastic improvement and as close as you can get to perfection without quite reaching it.

The first thing you will notice if that the film is presented in widescreen. Sure, a pan and scan version is also available, but do yourself a favor and pick up the widescreen version. The quality of the picture has been improved, as has the sound. There are four features that are included with the disc: 1)MXPX video of “Shout,” 2)Where Are They Now? A Delta Alumni Update, 3)The Yearbook: An Animal House Reunion, 4)Did You Know That? (Universal Animated Anecdotes). The video is forgettable unless you are a fan of MXPX. The “Where Are They Now?” feature has good intentions, but falls flat. It focuses on the characters current lives and careers. Unfortunately, the writing is poor so it really comes off looking more sad than funny. The “Yearbook” is basically a “making of” special and it does offer several neat tidbits about the characters and the inspiration of the film. The “Did You Know That?” section functions as the film’s commentary. It does offer some insight into the film. However, I would have preferred to hear from Ramis, Landis and others personally speaking about their experiences and feelings about the film.

Animal House is one of my all-time favorite movies. It’s so funny and holds up well over time. The DVD version has been restored so the picture quality is excellent which improves the viewing experience. The extras are nice and do offer plenty of insight into the film. Animal House is just too funny not to recommend and it is a must for any fan classic comedies. Don’t be afraid to pick it for yourself or for someone else, they’ll thank you for it.


Recommend this product? Yes

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ANIMAL HOUSE is the film that launched National Lampoon as a comedy powerhouse. Developed by the editors at the Harvard Lampoon, the film is a collect...
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ANIMAL HOUSE is the film that launched National Lampoon as a comedy powerhouse. Developed by the editors at the Harvard Lampoon, the film is a collect...
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