Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Movie Review: "Back to School" (1986)

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Movie"Back to School"
Director: Alan Metter
Year: 1986
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1 hour, 36 minutes

Thornton Melon (Rodney Dangerfield) is the wealthy and successful owner of the nationwide Tall and Fat clothing company. After leaving his adulterous wife, Thornton decides to go visit his son Jason (Keith Gordon) at Grand Lakes University, where he believes he is part of a fraternity and a member of the diving team. It turns out Jason isn't doing as well as he let on and he is not in a fraternity and only the diving team's towel boy. Jason is on the verge of dropping out of school. To emphasize the importance of an education, Thornton decides to go back to school himself and take classes alongside his son and earn the degree he never got. School is more difficult than Thornton expects as he tries to buy his way through college. 

How much you like this movie will directly relate to how much you like Rodney Dangerfield and his brand of humor. The majority of the comedy in the film comes from him and his portrayal of Thornton, with his typical crass and often times sarcastic dialogue. The majority of the other characters are playing the straight man/woman to Thornton's goofball antics. A young Robert Downey Jr. makes an appearance in this movie with blue and purple hair and garners a few chuckles as Jason's oddball roommate Derek. He has the same type of sarcastic humor then as he does now. Paxton Whitehead provides a dry British whit as Dr. Bombay, the stuffed shirt antagonist of Melon, and provides for some annoying type of humor. The cast seemed to mesh pretty well with one another. The rest of the comedy in the film is pretty much slapstick and fat jokes prattled off one after the other.

The plot is a very 80's style story of redemption. It features a guy who was once trying to skate through school who now must go through a training montage to overcome the odds in order to succeed. There is even a sporting competition for our hero to show his unlikely talent. It's very unrealistic to see an old, out of shape Rodney Dangerfield play a highly skilled diver, but it's still sort of funny. Hell, you even have Oingo Boingo performing "Dead Man's Party" at an unbelievably huge college midterm party. You can't get much more 80's than that. Overall, there are some parts of this movie that could be omitted, but the fact still remains that this film will probably make you laugh more than once, provided you like Dangerfield. This is a quintessential back to school movie!

My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.5/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 84%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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