This is my 250th Film Friday… which means I have reviewed 1,000 films, which is kind of insane.
David (Vince Vaughan) is a bit of a useless character. He works for his family’s meat business, but can’t be relied on to do anything, he’s got a bunch of debts he can’t pay back and his pregnant on-off girlfriend (Cobie Smulders) isn’t sure she wants him to have anything to do with their future offspring. One thing David was once very good at was jizzing in a cup and donating his sperm so much so that when the sperm bank mistakenly only offered his, er product, to their customers for a period of time he ended up fathering 533 children. When he finds out that 144 of said children have filed a court petition to find out who he is, David is horrified and engages the services of his lawyer friend, Brett (Chris Pratt) to stop his identity being revealed. But as David starts to find out who his children are and insert himself into their lives as a kind of guardian angel he begins to wonder if he’s made the right decision. Basically this movie is Vince Vaughan playing Vince Vaughan and it’s just a bit meh. It’s not offensively bad but there’s just literally nothing to get excited about except Pratt who is hilarious playing an exhausted dad. If you have nothing better to do it’s fine as a background movie on a weeknight evening… unless you hate Vince Vaughan, in which case you should stay very far away from this. 2/5
When Mitch (Luke Wilson) discovers that his girlfriend (Juliette Lewis) has been engaging in some pretty interesting sexual practises… without him… he moves out and into a house near his old college. Unfortunately his college enemy, Pritchard (Jeremy Piven) who is now the Dean, sees this as the perfect opportunity to get revenge and attempts to rezone Mitch’s new home as university property. Fortunately Mitch’s friend, Beanie (Vince Vaughan) has a great idea. They’ll set up a fraternity and relive their glory days. Soon they’re recruiting and hazing a motley crew of rejects, which includes their friend Frank “The Tank” (Will Ferrell), whose recent marriage is already turning sour and an elderly veteran called Blue. Pritchard isn’t going to give up without a fight though and Mitch will need to decide whether it’s time to pack everything in or if he really is the “godfather” of his fraternity. Comedy is such a tricky thing to get right but when it works it is glorious and Old School is (for me at least) one of the glorious examples. Luke Wilson is excellent at pulling off the downtrodden everyman and his chemistry with Vaughan’s fast talking party-savant/devoted dad is every bit as good as it is with his more famous brother. At the same time Will Ferrell is an absolute scene-stealer as Frank, whose crazy outburst catchphrases and destructive alter-ego give the film that secret sauce. The kids’ birthday party pool debacle set to The Sound of Silence being the absolute pinnacle. Sure the storyline is pretty dumb and the conclusion is completely implausible but it’s such fun that it’s hard to care. One of my favourite all time comedies. 4/5
It’s the last day of school and Randy ‘Pink’ Floyd (Jason London), the star quarterback hasn’t decided whether he’s going to sign his “no drink, no drugs” pledge… mostly because he’s a massive stoner. At the same time he and his incumbent senior friends are planning to haze next year’s catch of freshmen, which include Mitch (Wiley Wiggins) and his friends. Slater (Rory Cochrane) just wants to get high, Wooderson (Matthew McConaughey) is scoping out the high school girls and Tony (Anthony Rapp), Mike (Adam Goldberg) and Cynthia (Marissa Ribisi) just want some visceral experience. Everything comes to a head as the different characters cross paths and in typical Richard Linklater fashion talk about life, love, politics and everything else in a very authentic 70’s setting. Dazed and Confused is one of my most fondly remembered films from my teens. My friend, Bronwyn, and I watched it about 400 times and could quote it almost from memory while smoking imaginary joints. Although our bootleg version was missing the last 10 minutes so we had no idea how it ended until years later. I think there are several things that make Dazed and Confused special – the excellent dialogue and how it manages to sum up the key coming of age themes so succinctly, the immense 70’s rock soundtrack, scene stealing performances from Cochrane, McConaughey and a young Ben Affleck cast as an angry bully and some excellent comedy moments. Even now over twenty years since its release, it strikes a chord and if you haven’t seen it I would highly recommend immersing yourself in this coming-of-age gem. 5/5
I decided to check out this documentary mostly because Mr O is a bit obsessed with death cults and the Jonestown cult lead by Brian Jones is one of the most famous ones out there. Through interviews with survivors, relatives of cult members and Jones’ own son along with re-enactments and actual footage director, Tim Wolochatiuk unpicks the dramatic last few days of the cult focusing on the actions that lead to over 900 suicides. While the Jonestown Massacre is a very interesting subject and this documentary is well made there was just something a bit lacking for me. The re-enactments were a bit hokey and felt like it went on a bit longer than it needed to. After the impressively haunting opening scene depicting one of the survivors making her way through the bodies of those who “drank the Kool Aid” it never quite reaches the same heights and I wonder if maybe there are better documentaries about this particular cult out there. 2/5