Even with Portland being cold and wet and with a good chunk of the usual Midnight Movie audience not even in Portland let alone the Bagdad Theater, thanks to Emerald City Comic Con happening at the same time in Seattle, plenty of people were there for Animal House, some in togas. Good. The film needs and deserves and rewards an audience, especially an audience of drunk pervs like us. Especially Oregon-proud drunk pervs happy that the film got made in our fair state. (Apparently the then-president of the University of Oregon had previously denied a film a chance to shoot at a college, and that film had been The Graduate, and he decided he didn't want to miss the chance twice.)
It's a funny film, it's a good film if you can handle how plotless much of it is, and it's also a satisfying film. The writers, director and actors were pitch-perfect in knowing when to underplay -- John Vernon sometimes acts without moving, and some of the real-world antics that inspired bits in this flick were apparently more extreme -- and when to do the big, more cartoony gestures (John Belushi on the ladder, Vernon's "You'll get your chance, smart guy!" or the fratboy who diverts the marching band). There's sex appeal for more than one audience; not even most sex comedies have this much nudity and sex in them nowadays. And as offensive as it is, and it is jaw-dropping at times (remember, kids! Statutory rape is funny! So's recreating the Kent State shootings!), Animal House stays endearing. You may cringe at what the characters do but you can almost see what they do as stuff that at least your good friends would do and tell hilarious stories about later. Maybe you would, too. Except for shooting at, well, near, a horse. Instead, you can live the awfulness vicariously through Animal House and be amused by it.
(Perhaps the closest the film comes to a tone-deaf misstep is how it handles racial tension in the bar scene, but that scene stayed in the film thanks to the intervention of Richard Pryor. True story: Universal Pictures President Ned Tanen ordered the bar scene cut because he thought it was so offensive it would cause race riots, so the director screened it for Pryor, who wrote "Ned, Animal House is f***ing funny and white people are crazy - Richard.")
This needs better explaining. Maybe letter. But Animal House holds up jussssssst fine, and needs to be seen in uncut R-rated glory.
The before-film clip show was a Belushi tribute: his original SNL audition, such SNL bits as the cheeseburger shop, "Samurai Delicatessen," the doughnut cereal and his EPIC Joe Cocker impression, singing that "Ev'rybody Needs Somebody" song at the concert in The Blues Brothers, and -- this played really well -- the teaser short he and writer John Milius filmed a full year before 1941, a movie they both were working on, came out:
Thank you, John Belushi.
And for more entertainment, here's the Animal House commentary track: Cort Webber, Bobby "Fatboy" Roberts, David Walker (damning director John Landis damn thoroughly), Mike Russell and Erik Henriksen marveling at the film. Sometimes they pause in the commentary just to watch and laugh. And laugh and laugh and laugh.
P.S. The April Cort and Fatboy Midnight Movie: an encore of James Cameron's Aliens, this time for the film's 25th anniversary, because the 20th anniversary screening Cort and Bobby held in 2006 was famously bad and they finally have a chance to make up for it.