Sunday, February 16, 2020

Living the Fat, Drunk and Stupid Life

I didn't pledge a fraternity in my college days.  I wasn't the type.  Most college fraternities came off as elitist snobs (much like the Omegas in this movie, although I wasn't influenced by it.  I didn't see Animal House until I was well into my 20's.)

But if there had been a fraternity, like the Deltas,  for outcasts like myself, I definitely would have petitioned them to accept me (although, truth be told, I may have been considered too much of an outcast even for the Deltas...)

When John Landis and company were casting around for locations for this film, most universities took one look at the script and tossed them out on their ears.   The only reason that the University of Oregon in Eugene actually agreed to allow the filming was due to the university president, William Boyd, having seen the critical acclaim that The Graduate received after UC-Berkley had rejected the filming on its campus only to see USC get the location shooting and the subsequent benefits from it.

The movie featured a cast of unknowns. John Belushi was the most recognizable face, as the rest of the potential Saturday Night Live alumni opted to not join the cast.  Imagine an Animal House movie, if you will, with Dan Ackroyd as "D-Day", Chevy Chase as "Otter" and Bill Murray as "Boon".  Donald Sutherland was later added because the brass were afraid of a movie that only had one familiar face and that one of a relatively popular, but still somewhat obscure late night TV show.

Animal House is an institution in itself.  I don't think they actually coined the "toga party", but they sure as hell started a trend for them.  Not sure about the food fights, but I bet there were a few of them.

If Animal House isn't required viewing for potential college-going high school seniors, it should be.  If only to show how "not to succeed in college".  Or maybe to give them inspiration for getting through it without going crazy.

Animal House (1978):

Larry Kroger (Tom Hulce) and Kent Dorfman (Stephen Furst) are two college roommates whose big ambition is to pledge a fraternity.  There hopes are pretty much dashed when the elitist Omega fraternity rejects them.  ("a wimp and a blimp")

Larry and Kent

Kent convinces Larry that they should try to pledge the Delta fraternity because, after all, Kent's brother was a member of the Deltas so, he thinks, they HAVE to accept him because he is a "legacy".  Larry has some reservations because the deltas are renowned as the "worst" fraternity on campus.

Which they are, and deserve to be.  One look at the house and the ragtag bunch of malcontents in the house would prove it.  The big man on the campus (in more ways than one) is "Bluto" (John Belushi).  Add to that a wild and crazy guy who is not afraid to ride a motorcycle in the house, "D-Day" (Bruce McGill), two roommates who are only in college for the girls, "Boon" (Peter Reigert) and "Otter" (Tim Matheson), and a barely sentient guy only known as "Stork" (Doug Kenney).  Robert Hoover (James Widdoes), the president of the fraternity is the only one who could be said to have both oars in the water.

D-Day, Otter, Boon, Bluto and Hoover

Meanwhile, in the university dean's office, Dean Wormer (John Vernon) and the leader of the Omegas, Greg Marmalard (James Daughton) conspire to get the Deltas kicked off campus, by putting them on "double secret probation".

Dean Wormer and Marmalard

Wormer encourages Marmalard to use his wiles and his sadistic sidekick Neidermeyer (Mark Metcalf) to spy on the Deltas and use whatever means necessary to achieve this goal.


Not knowing of their impending doom, the Deltas continue on their wild and wicked ways, including having a toga party, complete with kegs of beer (in violation of university rules about that kind of behavior).  They also go on a road trip where they hook up with some girls from the nearby all-girls university.  When the midterms come out, and all of the Deltas are failing, Dean Wormer threatens to kick them out and to notify the draft board of their eligibility for the draft (and thus potential fodder for the Vietnam War).

But the Deltas are not ones to take this lying down.  When Hoover comments that it's over, Bluto leads the charge;

Bluto: "What? 'Over"?  Did you say 'over'?  Nothing is over until we decide it is!  Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?  Hell, no!"

Otter: "Germans?"

Boon: "Forget it, he's rolling."

Bluto:  "And it ain't over now!  'Cause when the goin' gets tough....  The tough get goin'!  Who's with me?  Let's go!"

And after running out on his own Bluto comes back to continue rallying the troops;

Bluto:  "What the f*** happened to the Deltas I used to know?  Where's the spirit?  Where's the guts?  This could be the greatest night of our lives, but you're gonna let it be the worst.  'Oooh, we're afraid to go with you, Bluto.  We might get in trouble'.  Well, just kiss my ass from now on.  Not me.  I'm not gonna take this.  Wormer, he's a dead man.  Marmalard, dead.  Neidermeyer...."

Boon:  "Dead.  Bluto's right.  Psychotic, but right."

And thus, the Deltas plan a really "stupid and futile gesture" to exact revenge on the university.

Oh and you haven't even seen the best part yet.  They plan to make a mockery of the homecoming parade.  And what a mockery it is.

This is a movie I still get a kick out of, even some 35 years after my college days ended.  If you've ever wanted to see some nemesis in your life get their comeuppance (without actually wanting them dead in the real sense of the word, this movie is one you absolutely HAVE to watch at least once in your life.

Time to take that ride home.  The old Plymouth could stand a few accoutrements like the Deltas deck out their car, but I don't really want to cause havoc these days.  Drive safely, folks.



  1. Yep. My husband has this thing committed to memory, with pauses for laughs.

    1. I would say having the entire dialogue committed to memory is quite an accomplishment. But I do have key scenes down pat. Thanks for reading.


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