Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Day 122 - Animal House (In the Theater!)

I have never seen Animal House. As a fan of comedies, it actually surprised me to find that I had never made time to see this cult classic. While I recall seeing bits and pieces of the film in passing on nostalgic television shows about comedy and John Belushi, I never saw more than a few minutes of the film at any given time and certainly didn’t see the film in the context of the whole Animal House story. Of course, every comment I ever heard about the movie made reference to its influence on modern comedies, to its hilarity, and to its underlying genius in reflection on the United States during the 1960s. While I knew I should likely see Animal House at one point, the idea of taking time to see the movie wasn’t a high priority, and certainly not during my “I have never...” year. However, that perspective changed when a friend of mine, Ross, made me aware the local Marcus Cinemas were playing Animal House for free on the big screen this week. As a result, I decided I would shuffle some things on my schedule around to see Animal House for the first time. After all, it was unlikely I would encounter a chance to see the film in a theater again, and spending a night at the theater seemed a great way to break up another full week of new experiences.

Animal House? In the theater?!?
Upon arriving at the theater, I greeted Ross and his friend Jon who were waiting for me at the front door. With some time to kill before the show, we entered the theater and made our way to the in-house bar. After enjoying a drink we ordered a second round and found our way to theater shortly before Animal House was scheduled to start. Much to my surprise, the theater was nearly empty when we arrived. Although it was 9:30 on a Wednesday night, I assumed a free showing of Animal House would have drawn more people, but that ultimately ended up not being the case. As the opening scenes of the movie began to play, I took stock of the people in attendance and found our group was one of three in the theater to see the show. While my initial response was one of disbelief, the forthcoming movie made me quickly transition to a state of excitement. Regardless of how many people were in attendance, I knew I was about to see a famed comedy for the first time, which was all that really mattered to me.

Within the first few minutes of Animal House starting the building plot already had me laughing. The outlandish characters that occupied the fraternities of Faber College and the pure dysfunction of the Delta House made it obvious the story would delve into the ridiculous and the hilarious in short order. I watched on as the Faber College Dean hatched his plan to remove the Delta fraternity and its members from campus, and laughed my way through the rivalry-based antics of the Delta and Omega crews. The Omega’s over-confidence and fanatic devotion to fraternal traditions, proper conduct, and perceived greatness provided ample opportunity for the rowdy Delta crew to take potshots, which provided one memorable scene after another as the movie progressed. Early on, I could see why Animal House stands as a comedy favorite in many people’s books, and we were less than half way through the film.

Even as the story progressed and the Delta’s faced the revocation of their charter, their hilarious actions and revelry remained unfettered. The lack of concern over the end of the Delta era and their possible expulsion from school made it easy to see the group lived life for every moment and had little concern for what the future would bring. Although flickers of concern over their futures emerged from time to time, the Delta crew held steady their rebellious nature and unrelenting effort to stick it to “the system.” From the toga party, to the road trip, to one ultimate finale of parade hijacking, float destruction, and outright chaos, The Delta crew kept me laughing throughout the movie. Sure, their actions were sourced in downright carelessness, but they were damn funny.


Parade Chaos!
Eventually, the film drew to a close with a final hilarious act of listing the graduation years and the careers of each main character in the film. When the credits started rolling, I was actually a little disappointed the movie had already drawn to a close. I simply felt there was so much more story left to be told, but I’m sure the writer had full intention of letting the viewer decide how the Delta House spent their remaining years at Faber College. With the movie finished, Ross, Jon, and I left the theater and chatted a bit before we headed our separate ways. Although it was approaching midnight, it was clear Animal House left each of us in high spirits. To me, that was a good enough testament to the movies humor and its impact on every college comedy that has been created since. Needless to say, I’m glad I took time to finally see Animal House. The opportunity to see it in a cinema provided me a memorable way to experience what is likely one of the best college comedies ever made, and, to me, there isn’t a better way I could have spent this Wednesday evening.

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