What is so peculiarly discomfiting about watching Animal House, newly remastered for a 25th-anniversary DVD, is how tame and placid and oddly genial it now seems. In its original release, the story of an outlaw fraternity taking on a rival house of bumbling crypto-fascists and a weaselly college administrator was the heady distillation of boorish charm and slovenly anarchic cool (large strands of Animal’s DNA can be found in campus capers like Revenge of the Nerds and Old School). But if time has softened the comedy, it has only enhanced our appreciation of John Belushi’s man-child Bluto: His manic energy (”Food fight!”) and sly, arched-brow humor (”My advice to you is to start drinking heavily”) provide the solid foundation for this old House. And let’s put the fella in charge of extras – a lame ”Where Are They Now?” update and a mildly diverting reunion of cast and crew – on triple-secret probation.
Posted September 5 2003 — 12:00 AM EDT