Let’s total up the number of Academy Award nominations Animal House accumulated. Hmm. None. Then surely it’s on the American Film Institute’s list of 100 Best Films? Uh, nope. Then how did it make this list?
Because it has one classic, memorable scene after another. The pledge party with Mohammet, Jugdish, Clayton, and Sidney. Dean Wormer putting the Deltas on double secret probation. Flounder shooting a blank gun and frightening Neidermeyer’s horse to death. Belushi piling food on his tray in the cafeteria line. The frat boys taking their dates to an all-black club. The toga party.
I grant that guys probably love this movie more than women. (I mean, more than most women love this movie.) And some will say its humor is sophomoric. Yes. It is. I wouldn’t be surprised if “sophomoric” was invented to describe Animal House. And the producers and writers would probably take it as a compliment.
John Belushi, fresh after making his mark on Saturday Night Live, owned every scene in which he appeared. Director John Landis had to limit Belushi’s scenes so as not to diminish his impact. But I loved Tim Matheson as Otter. He was perfect as the smooth-talking president of the frat. “Hi, Eric Stratton, rush chairman. Damn glad to meet you.”
Donald Sutherland was the highest-paid cast member, earning $40,000 for his role. The movie cost $2.7 million to make. To date, it’s cleared over $140 million, making it one of the most profitable films ever. I’m not a fan of teen sex comedies, but I think Animal House is so much more than that. It’s one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen. Relive some of the best bits in this 10-minute video: