National Lampoon's Animal House
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the only moral here is hatred for authority and partying. That means a lot of drunken revelry, pranks, and violence to make their point. It also means characters cheat on each other, binge drink, steal cars, and sleep with underage girls. Some female nudity.
What's the story?
Fight for your right to party! In NATIONAL LAMPOON'S ANIMAL HOUSE, that's what the boys of the Delta House fraternity plan to do, despite the nefarious plans of the dean (John Vernon) and the guys of Omega house (notably, the chief meanie played by Mark Metcalf). Bluto (John Belushi), Otter (Tim Matheson), and the other guys of Delta house are seven-year seniors who use their time at school to score with girls, have toga parties, and generally enjoy themselves. But Dean Wormer and the bullies of Omega house are out to harsh their mellow. The dean puts the fraternity on "double secret probation," and plans to throw them out at their next infraction. So when the guys steal Doug Neidermeyer's horse and put it in the dean's office for fun, and their grades come out far below the required level to stay at the school, the dean pulls their charter and expels the guys. But will they go out without a fight? Not a chance.
Is it any good?
For any guy who's ever had the figurative sand kicked in his face by a jock or been placed in the "dweeb corner" at the cool-guy party, John Landis' film is wish fulfillment.
Don't bother trying to find the plot here. It's more fun to go along for the prank-playing, wiseass ride while singing along with the amazingly energetic soundtrack. If you think too hard about it, Animal House isn't a whole lot better than today's teen sexploitation films like American Pie.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about how they deal with bullies. When someone is mean to you, do you imagine pulling off a prank like the ones the Deltas pull on Dean Wormer and the Omegas? What's a healthier way to deal with your anger? The film is also a good opportunity for parents to talk about appropriate behavior with sexual partners. Also, why do you think this film has a cult following? Does it epitomize what made John Belushi so funny on Saturday Night Live? Adult comedy buffs may want to look up Belushi's funniest moments from SNL and share them with kids. Many -- like the Samurai Deli sketch -- showcase his astounding comedic talents in a much more kid-appropriate fashion.