MGM // 2008 // 94 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Daniel MacDonald (Retired) // January 29th, 2009
Best. Weekend. Ever.
The hard-R teen comedy can be a wonderful thing, filled with true-to-life dialogue, gratuitous nudity, and more laughs than you can shake an inflatable doll at. Or they can be like College.
After being called boring and unceremoniously dumped by his girlfriend, high school senior Kevin (Drake Bell, High Fidelity) decides to join his friends Carter (Andrew Caldwell, Drillbit Taylor) and Morris (Kevin Covais, an American Idol contestant in 2006) on a weekend getaway to a nearby college, where the trio intends to party and bed some college girls.
They end up staying at a fraternity where they're tormented, humiliated, and abused, yet they put up with it so Kevin can record video footage of himself having a wild time to send back to his ex. When he falls hard for one of the frat brothers' former flames (Haley Bennett, Music and Lyrics), Kevin learns that maybe it's best to be yourself.
College is easily one of the worst films produced in 2008, hateful toward its audience, meandering with no discernable point, and, worst of all, aggressively unfunny. I laughed more during The Hours than I did during this movie.
While it aims to be an amalgam of American Pie, Superbad, and Van Wilder, College lacks any of the charm, heart, or wit of those pictures, replacing it with clunky gross-out gags, dull dialogue, surgically-enhanced boobs, and a host of unlikable characters. There is so little charisma on display in College that pity is virtually the only feeling it is likely to arouse.
Let's put aside the contrived, dimwitted plot -- this type of movie rarely strives for anything close to realism, and shouldn't: that's not what we're watching for. Usually we get a loose, condensed coming-of-age story on which is hung a barrage of juvenile jokes, through which we're led by archetypical, engaging leads. Often it works, giving us great comedies like Porky's and Old School, injecting catchphrases into the public consciousness and playing in the background of house parties across North America. College opts to go the other route -- that is, to suck.
Virtually none of the actors comes across unscathed, existing in a vacuum of comic timing and personality. It's hard to believe the main trio had even met before the cameras started rolling, much less have been friends for years. Why would they? Kevin is a whiny, indecisive loser, Morris is such a one-note character he could've been the score to Eyes Wide Shut, and Carter brings rudeness to new levels of obnoxiousness. Despite at least one of them being featured in nearly every scene, these three fail to rise above the material and are painful to watch. About the only remotely interesting people in College are Nick Zano (Fat Albert), who makes some curious choices as frat house leader Teague, like playing an entire scene inexplicably with his hands down his pants, and Haley Bennett as above-it-all conquest Kendall, who seems to think she's appearing in a completely different, better movie.
The flat lighting, annoying score, and grating song choices do little to redeem College. MGM provided us with a watermarked screening copy, so I imagine the final version will look better than the overly compressed, edgy image here, but it's hardly eye candy. Audio is serviceable 5.1 Surround that rarely expands beyond the center channel except for music.
College comes in R-rated and unrated versions, with less than a minute's difference between them. Other than that, the only included bonus feature is an unfunny gag reel.
I have only shut off three movies before their end in my life. If I hadn't been reviewing this one, it would've been number four.
Stay in school, but avoid College at all costs.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 94 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Gag Reel
* Theatrical Trailer