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Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - August, 2011

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"National Lampoon's Animal House" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Jim Clements

movie-august-2011-animal-house

Synopsis

It is Pledge Week at the mythical Farber College and two incoming freshman, Larry Kroger (Tom Hulce) and Kent Dorfman (Stephen Furst) are interested in pledging one of the fraternities on campus.  The fact of the matter is that they are just not up to the standards of the better fraternities.  Fortunately, Dorfman a/k/a "Flounder" is a legacy at the raucous Delta Tau Chi House. Follow their escapades as they pledge Delta and take on the Omegas who help Dean Wormer (John Vernon) in his bid to undo the Deltas by way of the "double secret probation" they have been placed under.  With much of the film's tone being set by the Delta's spiritual leader, Bluto Blutarsky (John Belushi), you can once again relish in all the madcap toga parties, food fights and other amazing stunts.  Nobody is safe from the action, not even Dean Wormer's own promiscuous wife (Verna Bloom).

Specifications

  • Universal Studios
  • 1978, Color, Rated R, 1 Hr 49 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Codec: VC-1
  • 1080p
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring: John Belushi, Tim Mattheson, John Vernon, Verna Bloom, Tom Hulche, Stephen Furst, Kevin Bacon and Donald Sutherland
  • Directed by John Landis
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: Yes
  • Language: Yes

Commentary

I cued up this Blu-Ray late one night just to get a quick feel for the quality of the restoration and transfer.  As you may have guseed it, a little under two hours later as I watched the closing credits roll by I was only just beginning to rise up from a major nostalgia experience.  I just couldn't help myself.  This movie is so chock full of great moments; moments than defined whole acting and directorial careers.  Many of these moments have also become cultural phenomena in our Western society.  I like that the movie plays much like a stage show adapted for the silver screen. 

It can certainly be expected, but it is nevertheless interesting how John Belushi receives top billing on the cover.  The way I remember it, he was simply an amusing bit character who provided additional comedic relief (of the slapstick variety, no less).  But he was the central figure in many enduring images from the movie.  Still you must not forget all the other great characters here - Dean Wormer, Flounder, Otter, Pinto, Professor Jennings, Babs, Boon, Neidermeyer, etc., etc.   And Animal House has great music with featured guests Otis Day and the Knights.

Technical

I went back and watched this Blu-ray again when I was in a more alert mental state.  I have subsequently reduced the Video rating by 1 star.  There is abundant film grain.  The image has ample detail in facial close-ups.  The colors are solid and natural.  The black levels are very inky with frequent crush in the shadows.  The image is marred with too much edge enhancement which obliterates detail in long shots.  The audio sounds dated but has decent transparency on the musical score.  Dean Wormer's loud, cranky voice was particularly well reproduced.  The various sound effects are where the age of this work is most apparent.

Extras

This disc has a typical array of Special Features: U-Control Scene Companion, U-Control The Music of Animal House, The Yearbook - An Animal House Reunion, Where Are They Now? - A Delta Alumni Update, Scene It? - Animal House and the Theatrical Trailer. Storybords and posters.