This one gets a 4.0 for sure!10/10
John Landis's directorial debut, and John Belushi's first starring role make this screw-ball comedy about college life in the early 60's a must-see. I saw this picture for the first time when it was released to theaters and laughed my buns off; it still holds up today, almost 30 years later.
Every actor in the show gives a bravura performance, with stand-out debuts by the likes of Thomas Hulce, Tim Matheson, Karen Allen, Bruce Davidson, and others. In addition, there's a sense throughout the picture that we all knew these guys at one time or another in our lives. Shoot, I think I may have BEEN one or two of these guys at some point in my life. Of course, the picture revolves around Belushi's terrifically over-the-top Bluto Blutarsky; but you simply can't ignore characters like Boone, Otter, Niedermeyer, Gregg Marmalade, and my personal favorite, D-Day.
The writing on this picture is really far better than the loosely-structured plot first indicates. Each character is introduced neatly at their entrance; and, by extension, the other characters are set up by the entrances of their surrounding characters. For instance, when we first meet Belushi's character, he's holding a schooner of beer in one hand and drunkenly taking a leak on the Delta Tau Chi lawn. Right away, we know what the rest of these guys are going to be like. Then, when D-Day makes his entrance, driving his hawg through the front door and up the stairs to play the William Tell Overture on his throat before pulling a beer out of his jacket and popping the top, our fears are confirmed. Meanwhile, we get to meet the uptight, repressed, and mildly facsist other frat through similar vignettes. Kevin Bacon is particularly hilarious in his initiation ("Thank you, sir! May I have another?").
John Landis made his debut with this picture, and what a debut it was! His camera follows each of the characters and events at near breakneck speed, giving the audience little time to recover from one laugh before getting slapped in the head with another. Lots of natural lighting, and sharp, steady pacing with smooth transitions keep the story moving. Refreshingly, the film doesn't rely on over-the-top special effects to hold our attention. Then again, is there really any place for SFX in a picture like this?
The whole picture is one long laugh, from beginning to end. If you're a college grad, you'll forget what it was really like to have to work hard, study, and generally bust your tail to graduate. If you haven't yet gone to college, this picture will give you all the wrong ideas. On the other hand, you've gotta see this one, if for no other reason than to learn all the right (and wrong) things to do at a college party.