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Back to School (1986)

  Directed by: Alan Metter
Written by: Rodney Dangerfield, Greg Fields, Steven Kampmann, William Porter, Harold Ramis, Dennis Snee, Peter Torokvei
Starring: Rodney Dangerfield, Keith Gordon, Sally Kellerman, Burt Young
Links: Back to School on the IMDb, Official site, Buy on DVD, Buy the Soundtrack
Genre: Comedy

This movie gets: 8.00 (1 rating) Ranking: not yet ranked (awaiting 2 ratings)

"Classic 80s fun" - a review by andy-j

In my review of The Extra (2005), I lambasted Jimeoin for unsuccessfully attempting to translate the humour he brings to his standup routine to the big screen. The late Rodney Dangerfield, on the other hand, does not have any such problem. His style of comedy is better suited to movies than it is to (what I've seen of) his stand-up routine. Back to School sees him play the self-made millionaire Thornton Melon. Melon is rich and successful, shrewd and business-savvy, but, at the same time, down-to-earth and not above bending the rules to get a favourable result. His mantra seems to be to have a good time, so he decides to enrol at his discouraged son Jason's college in order to spend more time with him, and to show him how important an education is (something he doesn't actually believe, but that's just a technicality).

Melon buys his way into college, then proceeds to live the lifestyle to the max. He doesn't study, doesn't turn up to classes, hires a bunch of specialists to do his homework for him ("a good businessman knows how to delegate"), holds massive parties, and generally throws money at any problem he encounters. The larger-than-life character of Thornton Melon suits Dangerfield down to the ground. No doubt he is playing himself, so he doesn't really need to act much. Instead, he reels off a steady stream of one-liners, makes a few bulgy-eye faces, and lets the amusing and entertaining plot do the rest. The rest of the cast is fine, except for Keith Gordon, who plays his son Jason, and Terry Farrell, who plays college girl Valerie. Both play annoying characters and are generally awful.

Dangerfield's gags are not laugh-out-loud funny, but they help to strengthen and endear his character to the audience. Even though he is dishonest and a cheater, the audience love him, because he is generous, doesn't play by the rules, is non-judgemental, carefree, and just wants to have fun. It is the perfect vehicle for Dangerfield, and while it is no comedic masterpiece, Back to School is an above-average film. Good fun, harmless, and entertaining, it stands up very well to multiple viewings (or, in my case, multi-million viewings).

According to the IMDb, a remake of Back to School is in development (Back to School (2006)). "Now that Dangerfield isn't around to stop us, let's spit on his grave by trying to one-up his achievements!". Fuckers.

andy-j gives this movie 8 out of 10.
Review created on Sat 7 Jan 2006

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