- Deb Hagan
- Drake Bell, Andrew Caldwell, Kevin Covais, Haley Bennett
- 94 min.
- Release Date
There’s something to be said for a comedy that makes no one laugh. College is such a movie. It does more than suck the sense of humor right out of its audience, however. It attaches to you like a rotten stink and finds a way of lingering long after the credits roll, permeating a fixed sense of disgust. I’ve seen bad movies before, from major bombs to all out trainwrecks. But this miscarriage-of-a-movie tops most by failing, abysmally so, to make anyone in my screening laugh even once. There we were, watching, barely coping, for the duration completely silent.
Could it really be that bad, you might ask? Um, yes. Typically I’m not one to be offended by movies. There are subjects not to my tastes that I’ll casually wave off, but I’m rarely offended. Here not only the lack of amusement insults, but the gratuitous objectification of women, blatant homophobia (yet the movie is ironically laced with homoeroticism), and pointless dives into bodily humor were all too much to bear.
The movie follows a trio of highschoolers determined to party hard their senior year. All losers, there’s a relatively normal one, a foul-mouthed fat one, and a super-nerd with glasses—sound familiar? They’re virtual carbon-copies of the teens in Superbad, except talentless and not funny. They take a weekend campus tour at a nearby university, where according to the testimony of one of their classmates, everyone parties hard. Convenient. Once there, every manner of college movie cliché is exploited beyond measure, to awful, sickening degrees.
But before the film gets to college, we’re already annoyed by the threesome of horrible little jerks, particularly the chubby one named Carter (Andrew Caldwell), one of the most obnoxious characters in movie history. Caldwell is trying way too hard to amalgamate himself into a fusion of Jonah Hill, Jack Black, and Chris Farley; instead, he comes off like a future date rapist. And his friends are no better. The geeky one named Morris (Kevin Covais) wishes he was McLovin’, and the normal one, Kevin (Drake Bell), is only getting drunk and acting stupid because he was dumped by his girlfriend.
The college itself is populated by two types: desperately masculine fratboys with nothing on their minds but beer and breasts, and young women destined for the pages of the slimiest skin mags on the rack at your local gas station. And here’s a lesson in the movie’s overused college lingo: All the guys are “dudes.” All the women are “chicks.” Anything bad is “gay” or “retarded.” A cowardly male is either a “bitch” or a “pussy.” And the most common way for a girl to ask for something is by flashing her chest. Anyone in the audience with respect for the fairer sex is ostracized.
Bawdy humor is widespread in college-set comedies, having become an establishment of the genre after Animal House and Revenge of the Nerds. But even those movies knew when to quit, realizing the audience should actually like the protagonists. With College your gag reflex works on overtime, reacting to the profuse amounts of detailed scatological “humor” festering in both human and pig waste. What’s more, the camera makes sure to get right up close to it, so whatever snacks you’ve purchased for the show are suddenly no longer appetizing. Add to that exploitatively-filmed nudity and sex in almost every scene, and you have yourself a bad movie hangover. Symptoms: depression, nausea, and a strong desire to join your local feminist union.
I’m forced to wonder what academic institution writers Dan Callahan and Adam Ellison attended (if at all) that their experience was actually like this. Were they like the movie’s fratboys—one moment trying desperately to substantiate their manhood, the next downing body shots off one another, and then finally pushing themselves on drunk girls? Pity on them, if their experience was as dreadful as their mean-spirited movie. For the rest of you, should you attend College, there’s always the option of dropping out. The price of a movie ticket is much easier to say goodbye to than a semester’s tuition.