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DreamWorks presents

Old School (Blu-ray) (2003)

"True love is hard to find, sometimes you think you have true love and then you catch the early flight home from San Diego and a couple of nude people jump out of your bathroom blindfolded like a goddamn magic show ready to double team your girlfriend... "- Mitch Martin (Luke Wilson)

Stars: Luke Wilson, Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn
Other Stars: Ellen Pompeo, Juliette Lewis, Lea Remini, Perrey Reeves, Craig Kilborn, Jeremy Piven, Elisha Cuthbert, Patrick Cranshaw, Harve Presnell, Snoop Dogg, Seann William Scott, James Carville, Andy Dick, Artie Lange
Director: Todd Phillips

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for Not Rated for nudity, language, sexuality and drug use
Run Time: 01h:31m:50s
Release Date: 2008-12-16
Genre: comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B B-A-B B+


DVD Review

Okay, Iíll confess Ö I think Will Ferrell is funny. His tenure on Saturday Night Live was a bright spot during an otherwise dim period of the show and when he finally crossed over into movies, it seemed (to me, at least) like a perfect fit. His brand of humor might not be everyoneís forte (see Mark Zimmerís delightfully different take on Ferrell and the HD DVD of Old School), but comedy is quite possibly the most subjective of all genres. So itís not surprising that Will Ferrell is an off-putting element for many. His comedy is broad, sometimes vulgar, occasionally disgusting, and often very, very silly. What can I say? I like him.

And I donít think heís ever been better than in Old School, the story of three thirty-something guys (Luke Wilson, Vince Vaughn, and Ferrell) who start their own fraternity in an attempt to relive their beer-soaked glory days. Unsurprisingly, their startup is a rousing success, soon sparking the ire of the smarmy dean (Jeremy Piven), who intends to shut them down for good. Hijinks ensues.

Old School has a lot going for it, most importantly the fact that all three of the leads bring a decidedly different brand of comedy to the table. Wilson is the charming straight man, Ferrell aims for the broad humor, while Vaughn has the dry wit and snappiest dialogue of the bunch. The physical comedy tied closely to Ferrellís Frank the Tank may wear thin on repeat viewings, but I still find myself laughing at some of the most outrageous bits. Furthermore, each actor centers their character in a way that makes them believable (or relatable, at least). Iím not mistaking this for a great character piece, but these guys can pass for real people.

And as much as I like our main characters, I feel like the film never goes far enough in its pursuit of "anything goes" comedy. For example, two of our three leads are unhappy in their marriages, and yet they remain faithful to their spouses despite numerous opportunities. I know I shouldnít be chalking up the lack of infidelity as a slant against a movie, but for something as brazenly raucous as Old School, it also adheres to a politically correct line. Weíre a long way from Hardbodies here, I guess. Maybe that's a good thing?

I hesitate to compre this to Animal House, simply becuase I belive it's best not to. It can't measure up to the beloved antics of Delta House and it works a lot better when you're not looking for comparisons. I'm not often compelled to add many modern day comedies to my collection, but Old School is a definite exception. It's fast-paced, frequently very funny and not without charm (sorry, Mark). That's all it takes to garner a recommendation from me.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: While this isn't a particularly striking film, this presentation should satisfy any Blu-ray addict. Colors are strong and vibrant, contrasting nicely with the darkest scenes. The image falls a bit on the soft side depending on the shot, and feshtones occasionally smack of a waxy finish, but it's a minor quibble. In no way does this image look as if DNR has been applied.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
English, French (5.1 only), Spanish (5.1 only)yes

Audio Transfer Review: As this is primarily a dialogue-heavy film, most of the action is confined to the main speakers. Voices are clear and balanced nicely, while music and the occasional rear-channel effect gives your home theater setup a workout.

Audio Transfer Grade:

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Portuguese, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
3 TV Spots/Teasers
8 Deleted Scenes
2 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Director Todd Phillips, Stars Luke Wilson, Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn
Packaging: standard Blu-ray packaging
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The commentary track by Todd Phillips and his three stars is busy, funny, and worth a listen for any fans of the film. Camaraderie is strong here and there's never a lack of chuckles. If you liked the film, or are a fan of any of the actors involved, then this is worth your time.

The rest of the extras review comes from Mark Zimmer's HD DVD writeup:

There are eight deleted scenes totalling 12m:52s that make Beanie a good deal more unsympathetic than he is in the final film. Ferrell does get in a line that fits the situation nicely: "What's so funny? There's nothing funny."

There's a featurette that has an EPK feel to it, Old School Orientation (13m:02s), and a silly spoof of Inside the Actors Studio featuring Ferrell as James Lipton. It does offer a few laughs, however, making it at least tolerable by comparison.

There are a set of outtakes and bloopers totalling 5m:04s, a trailer and three television spots. Only the trailer is presented in HD format.

Extras Grade: B+

Final Comments

Paramount continues to expand their catalogue with satisfying Blu-ray releases. I'll be chucking my SD copy, as this release offers a significant upgrade in terms of audio and video quality. If it's high definition comedy you crave, look no further.

Matt Serafini 2009-01-05