Call them part of a ‘teen’ movie genre or not, but films set on college campuses (mostly comedies) have earned their own niche in cinema jargon. Normally, you think of beer, bongs, partying and lots of ‘T’ and ‘A’ as standards, but the institution of higher learning has representation in sports, horror and drama, too.
GREEKS, PARTIES, BEER, AND BUXOM WOMEN
So-called fraternity and sorority partying scenarios have been the most successful with the contemporary icon “National Lampoon’s Animal House,” in which the lowly misfit Delta fraternity stands on the brink of the Faber College Dean’s death penalty — banishment from campus.
Battling the snobby Omegas, the Deltas have toga parties, beer drinking contests, road trips and unappreciated on campus practical jokes, including an infamous food fight. This 1978 film featuring the late John Belushi set the mark for all that would follow.
CLAIM TO FAME: The “Toga, Toga” chant
LESSON: Don’t give up.
Of course, the average or misfit fraternity and/or sorority against one more politically and economically correct have continued to provoke howling in the aisles.
“Revenge of the Nerds” maintained the Greek background, but mixes things up slightly. The geeks get tossed from a jock frat and decide to start their own fraternity. Cliché dweebs with cliché names (Booger, Poindexter, and Wormser) battle college football bullies and their cheerleader girlfriends. Eventually, the head nerd wins the quarterback’s gal.
CLAIM TO FAME: Gender bending football skit.
LESSON: Don’t hope too much, the nerd gets the cheerleader only in the movies.
Imitations and endless sequels were spawned, including uppity co-eds vs. dorky co-eds sorority challenge called, “HOTS.”
CLAIM TO FAME: Women’s Strip Football.
LESSON: Don’t parachute naked into the President’s swimming pool.
A more recent imitation with less skin, “House Bunny,” in which a washed up Hugh Heffner cast off teaches a bunch of nerdy co-eds how to recruit sorority members, flirt, throw parties, and shop.
CLAIM TO FAME: Bunny teaching “proper” etiquette.
LESSON: Stop pretending to be someone else; be yourself.
Amanda Bynes takes on the Greek system too in “Sydney White (and the Seven Dorks),” which has been labeled a modern re-telling of “Snow White.”
CLAIM TO FAME: “My name’s Dinky and I think I’m in love with a dork!”
LESSON: Don’t expect fairy tales to come true on campus.
For a gender-bending twist, “Sorority Boys” (2002) does the “Bosom Buddies” routine of guys unable to find a suitable living space, so they cross-dress as gals and end up rooming in a sorority complete with a beer, grass, and showers.
CLAIM TO FAME: Dildo fight, near sighted sorority sis.
LESSON: Be nice to appearance-challenged women.
NOT ALL BLONDES ARE DUMB
Before “90210,” the overly malled California landscape bred a teen language all its own. Val-speak represented the shallow, fashion conscious, fully peer-pressured teen. Though set in high school, the flick had repeatedly buzzing one-liners (“Like, they’re staring right at us.” Response: “Gross, let’s move.), the film aptly reflects blonde intelligence discrimination at the movies.
However, Reese Witherspoon, playing sorority queen Elle Woods, upsets stereotypes with her innocent sexuality, a cute little dog from her purse, and acing the Harvard Law Exam after her jock “bf” dumps her.
Empowering women aside, “Legally Blonde” demonstrates the power of trimming your nails and walking in heels femininity when the woman redirects her brain to just say no to men seeking to exploit her.
CLAIM TO FAME: Elle’s transition from “what toilet paper is the softest” to top law student, with honorable mention to Bruiser (her handy purse doggie).
LESSON: Blondes have brains; show your appreciation.
COLLEGE STUDENTS FOREVER
One critical premise of this roaring campus party till dawn films: They were made at a time when mom and dad picked up tuition, room and board. Many of them had a secondary theme — How to remain a student forever with parents paying the bills. Any prank or manipulation sufficed to gain another semester without holding a full time job.
The National Lampoon label returns with “Van Wilder,” a seventh year slacking senior determined to have an eighth. Described by some writers as a 2002 would-be “Animal House,” gross acts, not elaborate laughing shenanigans, dominate — flatulence, diarrhea, sexual craziness and lots of Keg fuel.
CLAIM TO FAME: The disgusting Bulldog gag, cream donuts, and a protein shake laced with Colon Blow.
LESSON: You have to grow up sometime, especially if you find love.
“Seniors” has a group of slackers using a “nerd” to raise money through research grants to keep them out of the real world of work. Instead, they become “test tubes” in a sex life of college women experiment.
CLAIM TO FAME: How many times do they each get laid.”
LESSON: Watch out for corrupt grown-ups.
Goofing, romancing and partying leads to bad grades, so, two devious roommates learn a neat way to get an automatic ‘A’ — so find “Dead Man on Campus” bordering on dark veiled bad taste, instead of satirizing issues such as parental pressure, temptations of late adolescence, and academic restrictions.
CLAIM TO FAME: Hip music.
LESSON: You do have to pass your classes.
On the other hand, Rodney Dangerfield’s “Back to School” has a drop out dad enrolling in the same private school as his bored son.
CLAIM TO FAME: All that beer.
LESSON: There’s never enough beer at a college.
“Old School” has a group of misfit adult men attempting to relive their college days. Not wanting to grow up and said “I do,” they encounter the bullies of their past.
CLAIM TO FAME: Will Ferrell’s posterior.
LESSON: Acting stupid on campus has no age barriers.
With the brutality of the “I got into” letters in high school, a group of under achievers creates their own college for which they are “Accepted.” Trouble is, they start letting too many of their friends in and have to actually hire professors, hold classes, and gain Accreditation.
LESSON: Don’t print a fake college acceptance letter with your PC.
Conceivably, “P.C.U.” (Politically Correct University) depicts the campus where all the scholars from “Accepted” were admitted. Though unrelated, Port Charles University again has elitist snobs hazing anyone with a hint of diversity (militant blacks, feminazis, potheads, vegans, gays). Can the renegade misfits restore the decrepit frathouse once known as “The Pit” and bring fun back to the campus?
CLAIM TO FAME: George Clinton and the meat throwing vegan protest.
LESSON: Excise politically correct from your vocabulary.
ATHLETIC FEATS OF WONDER
Basketball and football accolades have brought fame, fortune, excitement and championships to college and university teams. Players learn more than the team’s won/lost record:
“Rudy:” A 100 pound wimp from a blue collar family shares his dad’s dream of playing football at Notre Dame. After intense studying to gain academic acceptance, he makes the “C” squad. The coach puts him on the field for a play in the last seconds of his senior year.
CLAIM TO FAME: Taking the field.
LESSON: Bruises come with wish fulfillment.
“Glory Road:” The coach of little known Texas Western College in 1966 recruits black basketball players and his all-black starting lineup competes for the NCAA championship.
CLAIM TO FAME: “You’re acting like Negroes are gonna be the future of basketball!”
LESSON: Racism stinks.
“The Program:” NCAA sports are a business, not a game. Coaches that lose don’t keep coaching; players on winning teams get a chance to turn pro; it takes money to win and not all coaches follow the rules.
CLAIM TO FAME: Deleted scene of player lying down between lanes of highway traffic.
LESSON: “Repeat, college sports are a business, college sports are a business.”
“We Are Marshall:” Do I really need to summarize this one?
CLAIM TO FAME: It finally got made.
LESSON: You play for championships after 20 years of mediocrity.
THEY GO TO CLASS SOMETIMES
“Good Will Hunting:” A janitor at MIT solves impossible math problem, branding him a mathematical genius.
CLAIM TO FAME: Pub scene.
LESSON: Geniuses have problems too.
“Paper Chase:” The embarrassing horrors of the Socratic method under the auspices of John Houseman.
CLAIM TO FAME: Houseman to law school student: “Here is a dime. Take it, call your mother, and tell her there is serious doubt about you ever becoming a lawyer.”
LESSON: No wonder attorneys are so eccentric.
“Wonder Boys:” Pot smoking, English professor has writer’s block on his second novel. Who would not? He’s having an affair with his boss’ wife, a student wants in his pants, his wife leaves him, and he’s driving a stolen car with the chancellor’s dead pooch in the trunk.
CLAIM TO FAME: Tobey McGuire huffs down weed, then gets the munchies.
LESSON: Adult living is complicated.
“Black Christmas” (1974 original): Co-ed staying at the lonely sorority house during Christmas break has unwanted spiritual company. This spawned the endless variations of teen slashing flicks that have “sorority” as part of the title.