Major Problems With Popular Fraternity Films Of The Last 30 Years

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Revenge of the Nerds

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Revenge of the Nerds might be the only traditional fraternity film outside of Animal House worth calling an actually funny movie (I do not consider Old School a “traditional” fraternity film, but we’ll get into that later). Yes, the protagonists of this film are what every reader of this site would refer to as “bottom tier [insert wildly homophobic slur],” but there are a ton of genuinely hilarious moments in this film, both from the Alpha Beta antagonists (who pretty realistically burned down their fraternity house at the beginning of the film, seriously, that could happen) and the Tri-Lams, who, among other things, “baked” the most TFTC pies of all time. Not to mention Lewis Skolnick being the second great fraternity film protagonist to literally get away with rape. God that moon bounce scene was SO a rape. Also, John Goodman is a walking TFM.

But as much as Revenge of the Nerds was what I consider a good fraternity film, its humor is still a watered down version of Animal House, and it created a formula that would unfortunately be mimicked by pretty much every other subsequent fraternity and college movie, essentially turning the genre into the cheap, gross out joke shitshow it is today.

That formula, simply put, is relying on gags, usually gross out gags (like nose picking and burping, which was edgy for 1984 I guess). Animal House might seem like it was a collection of gags as well, but it wasn’t. Animal House was a collection of skits and stories. These stories were real, exaggerated, and imagined (but based in reality), and drawn largely from writer and Dartmouth fraternity man Chris Miller’s series of college and fraternity stories in National Lampoon Magazine. These skits and stories were (mostly) strung together into a coherent and enjoyable story line, though the Fawn Lebowitz/black night club skit is an unnecessary albeit hilarious tangent. Seriously it served no purpose to the story, but it was hilarious, so who’s complaining? This “collection of skits” style is also a reflection of Animal House’s director, John Landis. A year prior to Animal House he had directed the then popular Kentucky Fried Movie, which was quite literally a film that was a collection of mostly hilarious skits.

What Revenge of the Nerds did instead of taking actual fraternity stories and adapting them to film, was rather to take the very general shell of those stories, their settings essentially (rush, Homecoming, Greek Games, etc.) and insert its own, mostly unrealistic and outlandish jokes into them.

At the end of the day, that’s what separates Animal House from everything, its honesty and authenticity. Yes there were outrageous parts, but you can get away with that when you stay mostly planted in an authentic place.

With Revenge of the Nerds, the genre changed. Writers, studio execs, or whoever, began to say, “Oh, okay, so what works with the college film genre is taking college situations and putting our own stupid jokes and gags into them. Wow, that sounds way easier than trying to be honest, a concept regularly explaining away dead hookers has put me completely out of touch with. It’s decided! Write a check for the next shitty college movie, I’ve got cocaine I want to do and a job I don’t!”

They completely missed the point, though Hollywood usually does. This is what Revenge of the Nerds started, or at least mainstreamed. While it ended up being an enjoyable film for whatever reason, almost everything after it was complete garbage, and it was because those films followed the Revenge of the Nerds formula.

Old School

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Old School is an absolutely hilarious movie, and in terms of fraternity films, second only to Animal House (though definitely not on the same level). Old School was a funny story in a fraternity-ish setting, but what really made it great was the fact that it was loaded with talent. Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn, Luke Wilson, Jeremy Piven, Rob Corddry, Juliette Lewis, Matt Walsh, and Elisha Cuthbert are all hilarious actors. Todd Phillips (who also helmed both Hangover films) is a talented comedy writer and director. Essentially, this was an all-star cast and crew that executed a funny story perfectly.

So what’s wrong with Old School then? For starters, it’s not about an actual fraternity. It’s about a bunch of old guys who hate their lives and make their own faux fraternity to cope. This is not a traditional fraternity film, it just happens to be a really, really funny movie that’s kind of about a fraternity. There are somewhat authentic moments, and there are plenty of memorable ones, but this isn’t a real fraternity film, in the strictest sense of the word. But whatever, we’ll take it, if only because we basically have to, since there are hardly any great fraternity films out there.

American Pie Presents Beta House

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Everything I said that Revenge of the Nerds started, American Pie Presents Beta House epitomized in all the worst possible ways. From script to production this thing is a nightmare, but hey, it was a straight to DVD movie, created solely to make some money. There was absolutely no thought put into it, so what should we have expected?

For every funny bit in the film there were probably twenty cringe-inducing gags, and my God were there a lot of gags. While the ideas of going down on a squirter or playing Russian roulette with horse semen makes me (especially me) laugh, the former was stupidly and anticlimactically handled, and the latter has no place in anything that would like to bill itself as a true fraternity film. It’s funny, kind of, but it’s not real or authentic AT ALL.

There’s too much wrong with this pile of shit to dissect it all, but suffice it to say that when a movie has a fraternity that’s members are all midgets because LOLOLOLOLOLOL MIDGETS!!!!, that movie sucks a mountain of ass.

American Pie Presents Beta House is every single thing that is wrong with fraternity and college films today, in one dogshit DVD.

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Animal House proved that fraternity films have the capacity to be at the very pinnacle of comedy. What makes something really funny is honesty. What makes Total Frat Move funny is that it’s honest. Even when it’s outrageous, TFM is tethered to reality. Besides, honesty is where the most outrageous humor comes from. To borrow from one of America’s greatest humorists, Mark Twain, “Truth is stranger than fiction.” Authenticity is what the genre has lost, and it’s absolutely what the Total Frat Move film intends to bring back in full force.

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  1. TrickleDown

    I understand that TFM is trying to spread the message with their new book and movie. That’s great, and it is expected of any business to want to expand.

    With that said, they are crossing the border between targeted advertising and in-your-face marketing techinques. Lately, TFM feels more like a massive advertisement than a humor site. It’s annoying to be bombarded with this shit on every page. Stay true to your user base and focus on what you’re good at: running a funny, niche site. If you want to make the movie, go right ahead, but let myself and the other users still enjoy this site.

    ^ ThisTake a lapReply • 1 year ago
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    • Jon M Fratsman

      TrickleDown: Are you trying to contradict yourself?

      You normally have pretty intelligent things to say on here, but this rant is just stupid, man. I understand that you’re trying to preach the “stay true to your roots” message, but the basics of building a small business are completely escaping you. What is TFM exactly? What is its platform, and what is its greatest asset? Yeah, it’s a niche comedy website, but its platform is this website, and its greatest asset is the website’s massive user base. Given, then, that since they completely own and operate the website, and in social-media based ventures like this one, more people = more $, why the hell WOULDN’T they shamelessly promote on the website THEY own?

      Given that external advertising is (from what I know) a small part of their total revenue, if you’re not buying RG merch, the book, watching the movie, or what have you, you’re literally completely fucking useless as a membership number. And so this attitude of “I want to read TFM for free, and never buy anything, and everything should be exactly how I like it, forever and ever, amen, and fuck their revenue” is fine, if that’s your thing, but that’s probably not the future of this site. It’s simple. They have a motive to monetize, and they have every right to. If you’re butthurt about that, go read Old Row…oh wait, they ask for donations too.

      Unless, that is, you’re willing to pony up several hundred dollars a year to read TFM behind a paywall.

      ^ ThisTake a lapReply • 1 year ago
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    • Fratweiser

      He was talking about promoting the book and movie you tard. That’s like McDonald’s trying to make you buy pizza or the arch deluxe when all you want is the big Mac

      ^ ThisTake a lapReply • 1 year ago
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    • Jon M Fratsman

      ^ Do you get your Big Macs for free? And if so, how’s life working at the Golden Arches? If not, then this was a terrible analogy that only makes my point for me.

      ^ ThisTake a lapReply • 1 year ago
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    • JohnFratYatesSommers

      Fratsman, you’re overlooking the fact that thousands of other free websites somehow manage to advertize without making their site annoying and cumbersome to use.

      Also if their biggest asset is a huge user base, and their platform is the site, why would any sort of advertizing that angers the user base and makes the site worse be a good thing?

      ^ ThisTake a lapReply • 1 year ago
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    • Tuco1855

      ^^This advertising isn’t smothering. You chose to click on this column. It’s not like the home page has an automatic pop-up that you have to click out of, or a promotional video on the side that automatically plays. I don’t know about the rest of you, but to me, this movie sounds pretty cool and as an avid TFM user, I prefer to read the columns that explain what it’s all about. You’re never gonna avoid advertising at any place in life so get over it.

      ^ ThisTake a lapReply • 1 year ago
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    • sperryville

      Now that you guys are making a movie can you get this damn banner off my phone? I can’t read any of this shit on my phone without squinting my eyes and I’ll go blind by 25 trying to read this shit. I hope you can deal with that being on your conscience….

      ^ ThisTake a lapReply • 1 year ago
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    • TrickleDown

      Wow, this really blew up. Fratsman, allow me to reply. I think you’ve built up a strawman around what I’ve said, and perhaps that is my own fault in my failure to fully articulate what I mean. You fault me for just wanting to read TFM for free without supporting the company. That’s not what I’m asking. My point is that I’d gladly buy the book and probably will soon anyway. However, I feel that the level of advertising on here is getting to the point where it could drive away potential customers because it is too pervasive and in-your-face. I fully want TFM to succeed as a company since I read this site.

      The tl;dr here is that I am very much ok with being nothing but a metaphorical pile of cash to the staff of TFM. I just don’t want to constantly be reminded of it. Dorn, since I see you’re on this thread, that’s not an accusation aimed at you. It’s just general frustration toward the advertising here.

      ^ ThisTake a lapReply • 1 year ago
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    • Born Wearing Sperrys

      Dorn, I’d like to add a little input here. You know I am one of your biggest fans, but is it possible for Bacon to write everything on this site? That guy is funny as shit.

      ^ ThisTake a lapReply • 1 year ago
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    • Martin Van BeerRun

      Although I agree that some of this try-hard culture has permeated my school on account of reading TFM, this is where rush comes in. The burden to educate rushees and pledges that TFM and other outrageous portrayals of Greek Life falls on the members of Greek community. Anyone with half a brain can discern which kids jokingly make remarks about TFM and which have actually adopted it as a lifestyle. I really don’t think this will do anything to the quality of the base of kids rushing, for the same kids who we bid will be smart enough to recognize the satire and the kids who don’t are, if anything, easier to identify.

      ^ ThisTake a lapReply • 1 year ago
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    • TomFratMoore

      Truth of the matter is. You guys getting a bunch of funny material for free from this site, doesn’t make Bacon or Dorn or any of these guys rich enough to pay for an actually decent movie. So when they try to make really cool shit, they have to shove the advertisements down your throats, until they can scrounge enough money together to make some good shit.

      The comments complaining about the TFM book/movie ads are almost as numerous as the TFM Book/movie ads themselves.

      ^ ThisTake a lapReply • 1 year ago
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  2. F Scott Fratsgerald

    Stop asking for money. First off it’s “something liberals do” and we all know everyone on this website is a Republican who lives next to Dubya. More importantly though it’s just fucking annoying. If I wanted someone to shamelessly ask for money I worked for I wouldn’t come to a humor website, I would just walk downtown and chill with the homeless people.It’s bad enough that every other time I click on something I get sent to Rowdy Gentleman. Stop this shit before you lose all of your fans.

    ^ ThisTake a lapReply • 1 year ago
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  3. Sunrise Shotguns

    This column was an advertisement, and not a great one. Stop pandering your goods over every aspect of this site before people start leaving, we all know the book exists and the movie is being made

    ^ ThisTake a lapReply • 1 year ago
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    • Atomic

      Though I’m sure this doesn’t matter to you, the movie was formally announced on the site YESTERDAY. Videos and the campaign to raise money for it began only a handful of days before that, and all of the content regarding it has been- pretty much- non-invasive. Are these things to sell you anything, outright or otherwise? At this point- no. Is the prime goal of any business endeavor to make money in the end? Why sure, but that isn’t the sole reason anyone runs a company or makes anything. There’s a level of care and creation to making things and making them right. Whether this is intended to raise exposure about Total Frat Movie or not, none of these are things that are being shoved down your throat to purchase. We all want the TFMovie to be great. We want to craft it as perfectly and authentically as possible, and my team is working on it, the same as the rest of Grandex, to ensure that’s it’s at a level of enjoyable, lasting, notable quality. Not just some shit to make money. So when Bacon goes through the trouble to write an assurance that if and when a movie like the TFM one- which is in the early stages of pre-production- is being made to have that lasting quality, and not just ink out money like some piece of shit ‘American Pie Presents: Beta House’- don’t let the first criticism to be leveled against it be ‘stop trying to get us to buy shit/advertise’. These things are here purely BECAUSE we all care about the audience, about the brand, and give a damn how and why it represents what it does. That’s why the book is a best-seller, that’s why the site has the fanbase it does, and that’s why the movie is going to be great. Because it’s about more than pop-up ads and doing quick tricks for cash.

      ^ ThisTake a lapReply • 1 year ago
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  4. cleavage

    What I wanna know is why does everyone assume that fraternity brothers give each other hand jobs and do any other gay shit. The only reason we joke about it is because gdis actually think we do that shit but it makes no sense.

    ^ ThisTake a lapReply • 1 year ago
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