National Lampoon's Animal House

  • Review Date: July 12, 2005
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 1978
  • Running Time: 109 minutes

Common Sense Media says

John Belushi's raucous toga party isn't for young kids.
  • Review Date: July 12, 2005
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 1978
  • Running Time: 109 minutes





What parents need to know

Positive messages

The message here is you have to fight for your right to party, by any means necessary. The Deltas lie, cheat on tests, steal cars, and steal food from grocery stores.


A lot of hazing-style violence, including paddling. Doug gets dragged behind his horse and is later trampled. Another boy is also trampled. Otter gets beaten up by the Omega boys. Flounder kills a horse.


Lots of sexual situations, including girls giving a guy a handjob (barely off-screen), reading pornography, Bluto looking up the skirts of some cheerleaders and watching shirtless girls have a pillow fight. Some naked breasts. Pinto considers having sex with a girl who's passed out and later sleeps with a 13-year-old girl. Mrs. Wormer cheats on her husband with Otter. Katy cheats on her boyfriend with her professor.


A considerable amount of salty language, including "s--t," "goddamn," "son of a b---h," "assholes," and "f--k." One character also uses the term "retard" as an insult.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Binge drinking, including among minors as young as 13, is the primary hobby of the characters. Characters get stoned with a professor.

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.

Parents say

Kids say

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.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:July 28, 1978
DVD release date:December 21, 1999
Cast:John Belushi, John Vernon, Tim Matheson
Director:John Landis
Studio:Universal Pictures
Run time:109 minutes
MPAA rating:R

This review of National Lampoon's Animal House was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Written byAnonymous December 8, 2012

Not for kids.

A Lot of Sex of people back in the 1970's making this movie. Will I'm saying this movie is not for kids or teen of any kind.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 16 years old Written byjfreighgiuhg March 23, 2011

Will turn into the best four years ever!!

Animal House is hands down the best comedy ever. Between drinking with friends, pulling pranks, and joining in food fights, college has never been better. And what about the ladies? Well, rest assured you will not be disappointed. Just remember, "Over, did you say over? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell NO!!"
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Parent of a 13 and 15 year old Written byJoeNameth September 16, 2009

not for kids

Gives kids the wrong idea about what college is all about.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Adult Written byakfletchers April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age

How old is your reviewer?

I couldn't find the bio on your reviewer for this piece, Heather Boerner. Maybe she's too young to understand that Animal House is now, and probably was when made, a period piece about the early sixties, a time when 18 year olds couldn't vote but could drink and be drafted, college was often very cheap, drugs and open sex in the popular culture were new and exciting, and integration was an ideal that hadn't really begun to be accomplished yet. Undoubtedly you should discuss it with your teens, or maybe encourage them to discuss it with their grandparents, but to whine about its lack of morals? Give me a break! It's an extremely entertaining social history lesson!


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