Old School (Uncut) (2003)

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Released 7-Oct-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Audio & Animation
Menu Animation & Audio
Audio Commentary-Todd Philips(Dir),Luke Wilson,Will Ferrell,VinceVaughn (Act)
Featurette-Old School Orientation
Featurette-Inside the Actor's Studio Spoof
Deleted Scenes-8
Outtakes
TV Spots-Working Together, Old Wild, Nomination
Gallery-Photo
Easter Egg-Snoop "Papered Up"
Easter Egg-Asking Frank for help
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 88:06 (Case: 92)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (63:12) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Todd Phillips
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Will Ferrell
Luke Wilson
Vince Vaughn
Jeremy Piven
Ellen Pompeo
Juliette Lewis
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music Theodore Shapiro


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Czech Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Hungarian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Polish Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Czech
Hungarian
Polish
Greek
Turkish
Hebrew
English Audio Commentary
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Old School is an amusing take on an old genre - the college/fraternity picture, most significantly embodied by the classic National Lampoon's Animal House. The producer of that defining film (Ivan Reitman) is actually the executive producer of this one. It has been a while since this genre has been successfully revisited, and this film presents just enough of a difference to make it (quite) funny again.

    Todd Phillips directed the less-than-outstanding Road Trip and in this movie he raises his game slightly in my view. Assembling a fine cast (Will Ferrell, Luke Wilson and Vince Vaughn) and giving them a lightweight script to work with, he has managed to produce a film that will make most people laugh out loud at least once or twice.

    Mitch Martin (Wilson) returns home on an early flight from San Diego, only to discover that his steady girlfriend has a surprising hobby. When a naked couple stumble out of the en-suite, and a stranger complete with porn-star moustache (Phillips himself) arrives on his doorstep "for the gang bang", Mitch knows it is time to move on. He secures a lease on a rather nice house, just on the edge of the local University. Meanwhile, best friend Bernard (Vaughn) is doing his best to convince the third musketeer Frank not to go through with his wedding...while standing at the altar. Unfortunately for Frank, Beanie's advice goes unheeded and the wedding is followed by a reception with the funniest wedding singer I have ever heard. (Total Eclipse of the Heart never sounded quite so, umm...edgy).

    Sadly for Mitch, his new home happens to be on the campus, which according to the Dean (Jeremy Piven) means he either has to move out or somehow become part of the University. What better way than making his house into a fraternity? After the opening night party, Frank's student alter-ego "Frank the Tank" resurfaces and his nascent marriage is on the rocks before you can say "naked drunken streaker". The recruitment and hazing of the fraternity brothers gives plenty of opportunity for gross-out humour and gratuitous nudity, but Phillips manages to create some genuine laughs without excessive use of either of these cheap tricks. Instead he relies on some understated performances from Vaughn and Wilson, along with a fairly standard plot - and just a wee bit of gross-out humour and the rare naked chest.

    Old School is not hilarious. It is however, surprisingly funny in places. This film avoids the gross-out excess of movies such as Porkies and Road Trip, and leans closer to the humour of Animal House mixed with a tiny dash of romantic comedy. The performances of the three male leads are all pretty good, but Ferrell steals most of the scenes in which he appears. The animal tranquiliser gun, with its accompanying homage to The Graduate, had me in stitches briefly. This film is not a classic comedy by any means, but there is enough good-natured humour here to provide a couple of hours of enjoyment for all but the most straitlaced of us and easily out-guns formulaic drivel such as Just Married. Well worth a rental, and a movie which I am fairly certain will attract a cult following in years to come.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality of this transfer is pretty good but is rather soft in many scenes.

    The film is presented 16x9 enhanced at 2.35:1 which is the original theatrical aspect ratio.

    The dark scenes show good black levels with only a very little low level noise. Shadow detail is acceptable in the night scenes. Colours are nicely saturated, well rendered and free from colour bleeding, with some nice primaries cropping up particularly in the children's birthday party scene around 45:00. Skin tones are pretty natural throughout.

    There are no significant MPEG artefacts in this video transfer, but a small amount of pixelisation or low-level macro blocking crops up occasionally in the backgrounds. Surprisingly for what is often a fairly soft transfer, edge enhancement is sporadically noticeable, although not a major worry (for example around Wilson at 3:33 and around the suits at 6:05). Aliasing was not a concern, with only minor instances cropping up on car chrome or on the books at 54:18.

    There are quite a few minor specks which crop up from time to time but these are usually very fleeting. The most noticeable of these film artefacts crop up against the bright beach sky background around 52:00.

    The English (for the Hearing Impaired) subtitles are well timed, easy to read and drop only a few words for the sake of brevity.

    The disc is RSDL formatted with the layer change occurring at 63:12, right at a scene change. The layer change is noticeable, but thoughtfully placed to minimise any disruption.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio transfer is serviceable for a comedy film, but unremarkable overall.

    The main feature audio is a Dolby Digital 5.1 track encoded at 448 kbps. To be honest a 2.0 track would probably be just as serviceable given the nature of the film, and the limited use which the subwoofer and surrounds see.

    The sound is generally clean throughout, with no hiss or clicks noticed. Dialogue is fine with nice natural sounding voices for the duration and no audio sync problems.

    The original musical score, credited to Theodore Shapiro (State and Main), is a little disappointing overall. This movie presents a great opportunity to mix some classic and modern party songs, but it is rather lacklustre. Listening to the commentary, I suspect that the cost of using a better choice of songs may have been prohibitive. Shapiro plays some of the music and provides some of the vocals - evidently a highly talented chap.

    The front speakers provide good separation and clarity, but the soundstage remains very frontal throughout the film. The audio frequently sounded a little "tinny" to me, and I think the bass could have been supported rather more to round out the sound. The surround speakers do not have much to do in this film, carrying some minor ambience in party scenes and supporting the musical numbers very lightly.

    The subwoofer is infrequently called into service, and on my system was noticeable mainly because of the signal detection light, rather than the audio impact it makes on the soundtrack.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There are a numerous extras on the disc and they add some value, and some additional laughs, to the overall package.

Menu

    The menu system is very nicely put together as a series of posters, based on the "Mitch-A-Palooza" poster in the film. The main menu is presented 16x9 enhanced in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and allows the selection of playing the movie, choosing one of twenty chapter stops, audio and subtitle set-up, or access to the following special features:

Audio Commentary

    A rather funny commentary from Phillips, Wilson, Vaughn and Ferrell, which is worth a listen for the improvised comedy and the good natured and lively discussion it captures. The audio is encoded at 192 kbps.

From The Cutting Room Floor

    Running for 12:44 and presented 16x9 enhanced at 2.35:1 with a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack encoded at 448 kbps, this is a series of deleted and extended scenes which contains some funny additional material.

Old School Orientation

    Running for 13:04 and presented 16x9 enhanced with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, this featurette is fairly pointless EPK style fluff.

Inside The Actor's Studio Spoof

    Presented full-screen at 1.33:1 (and therefore not 16x9 enhanced) with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 192 kbps. Running for 13:41, this spoof of worthy "Arts" shows presents a comedic, overly-weighty "in the round" style interview with the main actors and director. The fact that Ferrell plays the interviewer as well as himself is rather droll. Quite amusing.

Outtakes and Bloopers

    Running for 5:05 and presented letterboxed at 2.35:1 (and therefore not 16x9 enhanced) with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 192 kbps this series of bloopers contains some pretty funny footage.

TV Spots

    Three genuinely amusing television trailers for the film, running for a total of 1:40. Presented fullscreen (1.33:1) with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 192 kbps.

Photo Gallery

    Wow - close to one hundred photos from behind the scenes, presented static and silent. A fairly pointless extra, but full marks for effort!

Music Video

    This Easter Egg presents Snoop Dogg rapping for 2:02 presented 16x9 enhanced 2.35:1 with a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack encoded at 448 kbps.

Frank

    This Easter Egg presents Frank getting drunk for 1:51 presented 16x9 enhanced 2.35:1 with a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack encoded at 448 kbps.

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    In Region 1 Old School is available in two versions, with a choice of either a 2.35:1 anamorphic or a 1.33:1 Pan and Scan transfer. The extras on the widescreen version appear to be essentially the same as the Region 4 release. From what I can tell, the Region 4 release misses out on:

    The Region 1 would appear to be the preferred version due to the additional audio options and soundtrack choices.

Summary

    Old School works on the level it attempts to. It is a gentle homage to the likes of Animal House, and will probably appeal to fans of that film. The director avoids endless gross-out gags and breast shots which could have been an easy path to go down. Instead we have a (slightly) more mature look at the old college movies of years gone by, with some good performances from the three male leads. This is certainly worth a rental with a pizza and a couple of beers.

    The video quality is fairly good, albeit rather too soft for my liking.

    The audio transfer is acceptable for a comedy, but will not challenge your surround system too much.

    The extras are quite extensive, and generally amusing.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel O'Donoghue (You think my bio is funny? Funny how?)
Saturday, September 06, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDHarmony DVD Video/Audio PAL Progressive, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic TX-47P500H 47" Widescreen RPTV. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR600 with DD-EX and DTS-ES
SpeakersJensenSPX-9 fronts, Jensen SPX-13 Centre, Jensen SPX-5 surrounds, Jensen SPX-17 subwoofer

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