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September 08, 1978 - Image 78

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1978-09-08

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

CINEMA II
PRESENTS
FRI. Adventures of Robin Hood
(director Michael Curtiz, 1938)
Errol Flynn creates an unforgettable, exhilarating image of Robin Hood.
Aided and abetted by an all-star cast including Olivia Do Haviland,
Basil Rathbone, Claude Rains and flanked by the rest of the Sherwood
Forest gang. All a-leaping and a-bounding in what remains the most
enjoyable film ever mode. Academy Awards galore. Plus Short-
RABBIT HOOD-starring Bugs Bunny (Never fear, never fear, Robin
Hood will soon be here).
SAT. Small Change
(director Francois Truffaut, 1976)
All shows at 7:00 & 9:00 $1.50
Angell Hall-Aud A
SUN.-Hitchcock's THE BIRDS & MARNIE

Page 8A-Friday, September 8, 1978-The Michigan Daily
'ANIMAL HOUSE'

Life m the ultimate summer camp

EXHIBI TI Ok A ND

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By OWEN GLEIBERMAN -
Self-indulgence comes in many
varieties. We're right in the thick of
one form, of course, namely the Me
Decade. No one feels especially guilty
about dashing after those medical and
law degrees; after all, former self-
proclaimed sixties idealists are running
for Senator and working for Dow
Chemical. Why not learn from their
mistakes, take the short route, and end
up in the same place with a whole lot
less sweat and mental anguish?
The characters in National Lam-
poon's Animal House, on the other
hand, are blissfully unconcerned with
anything. In this hilarious college far-
ce, the mangy "animals" of Delta
House at Faber College in 1962 are
hedonistic upstarts who inflict their
own form of gleeful anarchy on the
straights. Matters of academia don't
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even take the bottom rung on the ladder
of priorities. The Deltas aren't out for
anything higher than a little old-
fashioned fun, but the difference bet-
ween their self-indulgence and ours is
something the National Lampoon
people understand only too well.
IN THE SEVENTIES, with everyone
pursuing pleasure in the form of the big
bucks, we slave forthat moment when,
ten years from, having landed the job
and secured our finances for life, we
can sit back and reap the profits of so
many torturous years of academia. The
seventies variation of the American
Work Ethic-putting love of money out
in the open in the face of our supposedly
recently discovered political con-
sciousness-reeks of practicality, and
betrays a spiritual malaise the charac-
ters of Animal House are having too
much fun (or are too dumb) to under-
stand. The Deltas never plan much
beyond their next scheme, and that is
their saving grace. In 1962, the film's
makers would have us believe, acting
like an asshole constitutes the sincerest
form of liberation.
Animal House turned out rather sur-
prisingly in the light of its parent
publication. Although scripted by
Harold Ramis, Doug Kenney, and Chris
Miller-thd latter two being old Lam-
poon veterans-Animal House isn't the
Lampoon, providing neither the
scathing stretches of blackhumor nor
the intermittently razor-sharp satire
that are (or were) the hallmarks of the
magazine. Animal House is often pure
slapstick, and more an affectionate
tribute to craziness that a satire of what
the crazies are up against. The theme of
deviants combatting the rules of an in-
sanely straight world was accorded
more biting treatment by Robert Alt-
man when the surgeon-heroes of
M*A*S*H socked it to the Regular Ar-
my Clowns.,
THE WILDEST antics of the Deltas
are more suggestive of a kind of
prepubescent joy, the pure fun one
derives from smashing the system.
John Belushi's Bluto, a Jack Daniels-
guzzling Neanderthal creature in his
seventh year as an undergraduate, is
the archetypal animal. Pouring
mustard all over himself, devouring an

Bluto (John Belushi) does his best to cheer up Flounder (Stephen Furst) in a
scene from "National Lampoon's Animal House."

.'~

M.H.T.P. presents for the benefit of
THE CHILD CARE ACTION CENTER
(SCHOOL OF EDUCATION)
Location: The Fishbowl and Michigan Union Lobby
Date: Friday, September 8 and Monday, September 11-15
Time: 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Buy 2, GET ONE FREE!
... priced at $3.00 each or any 3 for $6.00

enormous hamburger in one bite,
Belushi's masterfully subhuman ac-
tivities remain strangely untouched by
the evils of the outside world. When one
of his first brothers is down in the dum-
ps and Belushi tries to cheer him up by
cracking bottles over his own head, the
message rings clearly: Cheer up-how
bad could things be? /
ANIMAL HOUSE comes closest to
the sensibility of the Lampoon when
Pinto (Thomas Hulce), the movie's
Holden Caulfied, undergoes benevolent
rites of sexual intitation with the thir-
teen-year-old (don't believe it) mayor's
daughter. One episode, which could
have been lifted whole from one of
Chris Miller's college stories, has a
Delta brother feigning grief at a coed's
death so the deceased's roommate will
go out with him, as well as a scene in an
all-black bar that offers one of the few
outwardly racist jokes in modern
movies. In the midst of all this, the
Deltas variously smoke dope with their
hip English professor (Donald
Sutherland), shtupp the Dean's wife
(Verna Bloom), and destroy the
homecoming parade, which features a
float of JFK's head adorned by four
pink-suited Jackies.
Although the morter of the plot isn't
much, the joke holding all this together
is that the animals, even at their
mangiest, are college students. Scenes
like the orgiastic Toga party and
Bluto's "midnight peep" into a sorority
demolish the pretence of stoic
academia so endemic to the notion of
"higher" education. The Deltas are
among the privileged few at Faber
College who understand that college is
really a four-year summer camp. They
may seem foolish or self-indulgent, but
at least they aren't striving to look

otherwise. In that light, the rest of
Faber's inhabitants don't stand a chan-
ce.
* * *
Animal House co-writer Chris Miller
is the creator of "those dirty stories"
that graced the pages of the National
Lampoon in its heyday. One of the
characters of Animal House-the well-
meaning jut post-adolescent Pinto-in
fact comes'straight from Miller's long-
running series "Tales From the Alpine
Lodge." When the Lampoon people
were considering doing a college
movie, Miller seemed the natural
choice for writer; as with most of the
Lampoon Founding Fathers, he's never
entirely gotten over his obsession with
college life in the early sixties.
"THE SATIRE in Animal House
isn't even that intense," Miller ex-
plained, sitting inside one of the tiny
hotel 'rooms at the Detroit Plaza. "It's
hard to pin the film down. . . It's cer-
tainly got elements of satire and parody
in it, but it's got other elements: it's a
nice story, it's a celebration of a time
and a place, it's a nostalgia film-it's
many things."
Speaking so romantically of any era
may seem anthithetical to the
prevailing image of the Lampoon's
humor, but Miller's manner-devoid of
that hit-em-over-the-head-with-jokes
appeal so many comic writers seem to
cultivate-betrays his essenitially ;gen-
tle spirit. In -fact, during. his Lam~poon
years he stayed out of the maimstamof
editors to avoid what he saw as
rivalries fought out Ion the basis of "wit
and the well-turned phrase."
1962 WAS CHOSEN as the year for
Animal House, says Miller, because "it
was the last year of a long kind of
see ANIMAL, Page 12

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