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Today's word on journalism

Monday, January 29, 2007

Words as weapons:

"When he had a pen in his hand it was like giving a kid a machine gun."

--Peter Hall, theater director, on "Angry Young Man" playwright John Osborne (1929-1994)

Taj's rise to predictability

By Ryan Pence

December 5, 2006 | If you were like me, you were sitting in the theater and asking, "Haven't I seen this movie before?"

The answer: "Yes, various times."

The ironic thing is that National Lampoon, the creator of the movie, is still turning out the same movies but with different characters ever since its success with Animal House.

Story. The story is a well-known, recycled story. Taj, after being reformed into a "hound dog" in the first movie, Van Wilder, travels to England to enter grad school and to join the school's top fraternity. Once he arries, he finds that a "typographical error" on his admittance letter is impeding him from entrance to the "Fox & Hound" fraternity. He instead gets placed in the run-down frat house aptly named "The Barn." He comes to find out that the inhabitants of "The Barn" all had received similar letters of acceptance to the "Fox & Hound" and all had been told the same story. The people in this group of misfits calls themselves the "Cock 'n Bulls."

So, as with many other Lampoon movies, the underdog Cock 'n Bulls enter into a campuswide fraternity challenge to win the Hastings Cup. Naturally the Fox & Hounds always win this trophy. The Cock 'n Bulls start out lousy and over the course of the movie win enough competitions to compete head to head with the Fox & Hounds in the final event.

The Duh Factor. The movie does have one thing working for it -- it is occasionally funny. Although the story is just a rehash of previous material put out by National Lampoon's gang, the writers still seem to be able to draw in the crowds. It seems most likely because their target audience is college students, and college students need an escape from homework and studying every once in a while. And why not watch a pointless movie that requires no prerequisites to enjoy?

The Bottom Line. The movie is stupid at best. But the stupidity is bearable and funny at times. And if you don't mind the fact that you've seen other incarnation of this film and you know the plot and the predictable outcome, then this film is the mindless entertainment that you've been waiting for all year. If you are not in the afore-mentioned category, then you might want to spend your hard-earned dollars on a movie that has a little more substance than an amoeba.

Rating. Rated R, for strong language, nudity and sexual themes.

Ryan's Picks. If it is the mindless you want, then it is mindless you will get. Here are some mindless flicks for the average college student to enjoy.

Animal House. The alma mater of the National Lampoon gang and one of the funniest movies ever made. The film stars the late John Belushi, who might I add was fabulous and outrageously funny. The movie is simply about one frat house vs. another frat house, to become the best. This movie is often imitated, and material from the movie is constantly stolen as sight gags in other movies. But, honestly, do yourselves a favor and watch this one. It's worth it.

Caddyshack. If there were a definitive movie about golf and golfers, this would not be that movie. This movie stars Rodney Dangerfield as a land developer who would like to turn an exclusive golf course into real estate and an owner who doesn't care too much about the idea. There are various other subplots, including the groundskeeper played by Bill Murray trying to kill a gopher, and a young caddy trying to raise money for college.

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