In recent years John Landis’ frat-boy farce has had much to answer for, its legacy spawning a glut of imitations with twice the gross-out factor but half the humour. The original, now 25 years old but still rampantly immature, has real comic gusto, and allowed the late, great John Belushi to belch out a memorably madcap performance.
Set in 1962, it asks us to root for the scruffy, skiving outsiders (the term “slackers” still hadn’t been coined) on a campus ruled by the monied, suave elite. Our anti-heroes, the Deltas, spend the film drinking, partying, wearing togas, trying (and usually failing) to get laid, partying some more, and eventually rising up against the posh kids. Then partying again.
Viewing it now, you feel more sympathy for the upper-class twits and less for the flatulent oafs, though that could be a byproduct of all the spin-offs. Still the best film from the National Lampoon stable, with Donald Sutherland dry as a bone, and an instant nostalgia rush for anyone who’s ever been to college anywhere.