"Kaboom" follows the adventures of a group of college students who are all having sex with each other: guys with girls, guys with guys, girls with girls, every imaginable combination. Since it comes from writer-director Gregg Araki, it's full of lively, funny dialogue, but it's also an ambitiously different, out-there entry in the canon of college comedies.
With "Kaboom" opening in theaters this weekend and available through video on demand, here's a look at the five movies in this category that are the big men (and women) on campus:
— "National Lampoon's Animal House" (1978): Well, of course. Could we possibly start anywhere else? It's an absolute classic, one that defined the genre, with its wonderful ensemble cast including John Belushi, Tom Hulce, Bruce McGill, Tim Matheson, Stephen Furst and Karen Allen. It made sloth and debauchery look not just amusing but wildly desirable. In real life, every fraternity wants to be as brazen as the men of Delta Tau Chi — they all want to stick it to the rival houses, and the administration, with as much creativity and drunken gusto. John Landis' film takes place in the 1960s but holds up beautifully today as a battle cry for chaos, individuality and rebellious fun. Elmer Bernstein's rousing score only amplifies the antics.
— "Revenge of the Nerds" (1984): OK, so it looks extremely dated, especially when the Tri-Lams give their synth-heavy concert during the big fraternity competition at the end. But it's goofy, raunchy, ridiculous and ultimately sweet — and much better than the many sex romps that cropped up in the early '80s. Anthony Edwards and Robert Carradine lead the underdog nerd house against the idiot jocks of Alpha Beta, led by Ted McGinley. (A much slimmer John Goodman is hilarious as the school's football coach.) A timeless David vs. Goliath battle, an inspiring tale of tolerance and inclusion, only with big hair and booger jokes. It's bad enough that there have been sequels — please, Hollywood, I beg of you, never remake the original.
— "Old School" (2003): Luke Wilson, Will Ferrell and Vince Vaughn bounce off each other beautifully as three men in their 30s who form a fraternity. All the necessary hijinks are in place — K-Y Jelly wrestling, streaking, beer-bong guzzling and even a concert from Snoop Dogg — but "Old School" is smarter than the average college comedy. Vaughn's fast-talking shtick didn't seem quite so tiresome at this point, and Ferrell is delightful in full-on man-child mode. It's quick and light on its feet, and it doesn't beat the same stupid jokes into the ground. The best movie Todd Phillips has ever directed (sorry, fans of "The Hangover"). Say the words, "You're my boy, Blue!" and everyone will know what you're talking about.
— "Real Genius" (1985): Val Kilmer shows off the whole spectrum of his confidence and charisma in one of his earliest film roles. He's the coolest guy on campus — which isn't all that tough at the fictional and highly geeky Pacific Tech — as the school's resident quick-thinking, fast-talking prankster and smart-aleck. Martha Coolidge's movie hasn't exactly aged well over the years and still looks very much of its time, with Kilmer's character taking a young prodigy under his wing to help develop a super-powered laser. But it wears its '80s aesthetic proudly, has a great, infectious energy about it and, ultimately, a sweetness that binds its misfit characters.
— "Legally Blonde" (2001): Reese Witherspoon is irresistibly adorable as Elle Woods, the plucky sorority queen who transforms herself into a star law student. Perfectly coifed at all times and an expert in varying shades of pink as a fashion merchandising major with a 4.0 grade point average, Elle represents a contemporary spin on the age-old ditzy-blonde character. She uses the full force of her charm and organizational skills to earn an acceptance to Harvard Law School with hopes of impressing the man of her dreams but finds that, naturally, the woman she wants to be was within her all along. Director Robert Luketic's film has a brain and a heart and, like its heroine, it's a lot more intelligent than it looks.
Think of any other examples? Share them with AP Movie Critic Christy Lemire through Twitter: http://twitter.com/christylemire.
- Bruce McGill
- Robert Carradine
- Elle Woods
- John Belushi
- video on demand
- Stephen Furst
- Tim Matheson
- Gregg Araki
- ensemble cast
- the adventures