Old School (film)

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Old School
Old s poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Todd Phillips
Produced by Daniel Goldberg
Joe Medjuck
Todd Phillips
Ivan Reitman
Screenplay by Todd Phillips
Scot Armstrong
Story by Court Crandall
Todd Phillips
Scot Armstrong
Starring Luke Wilson
Will Ferrell
Vince Vaughn
Jeremy Piven
Music by Theodore Shapiro
Cinematography Mark Irwin
Edited by Michael Jablow
Distributed by DreamWorks Pictures
Release dates
  • February 21, 2003 (2003-02-21)
Running time 91 minutes
92 minutes (Unrated)
Country United States
Language English
Budget $24 million
Box office $87,055,349

Old School is a 2003 American comedy film released by DreamWorks Pictures and The Montecito Picture Company and directed by Todd Phillips. The story was written by Court Crandall, and the film was written by Phillips and Scot Armstrong. The film stars Luke Wilson, Vince Vaughn, and Will Ferrell as three depressed thirty-somethings who seek to re-live their college days by starting a fraternity, and the tribulations they encounter in doing so.


Attorney Mitch Martin (Luke Wilson) comes back from a business trip early and is shocked to find out that Heidi (Juliette Lewis), his girlfriend, takes part in orgies. Mitch breaks up with her. He encounters his high school crush, Nicole (Ellen Pompeo), at his friend Frank’s (Will Ferrell) wedding party. He is drunk and does not make a good impression. After breaking up with his girlfriend, Mitch goes house-hunting. He finds a house located near the campus of the fictional Harrison University in New York State.

Mitch’s other friend Bernard (Vince Vaughn), who owns a chain of electronic stores named "Speaker City", throws a party at Mitch's house and hires Snoop Dogg to play so Mitch can get his mind off his ex-girlfriend. The party, dubbed "Mitch-A-Palooza," is a huge success and puts Mitch and his friends at the top of the college social circuit, causing the former college friends to revert to their frat-boy days.[1] Frank, who had a reputation as the heavy drinker, hard partying "Frank the Tank" back in college, has his wife under the impression that he's matured and left that part of his life behind. However, he gets drunk at the party and goes streaking through the neighborhood and is found by his new wife and her friends, putting a strain on their marriage.

The next morning, Mitch wakes up with Darcie (Elisha Cuthbert), a young woman he met the previous night. At first he is a bit concerned but she assures him it was simply casual sex. In the aftermath of the party, the trio run into Dean Pritchard (Jeremy Piven), a childhood acquaintance they used to tease. Pritchard happily informs them that Mitch's house is specifically designated for social services and community housing. Therefore, Mitch, Frank, and Bernard must either move out or meet the Dean's criteria in order to keep Mitch's house. Bernard proposes starting a fraternity that is open to anyone. Although Mitch is initially reluctant to accept the idea, he eventually obliges and is dubbed "the Godfather." During this time he tries to keep his work and fraternity life separate but many colleagues wish to join as an outlet for the stress and boredom that is associated with the monotonous nine-to-five lifestyle for many members. Mitch, while in a meeting with his boss, Mr. Goldberg, is visited by Darcie and awkwardly discovers she is his boss' daughter, who happens to be graduating from high school. To make matters more humiliating, word has already leaked out around the office about Mitch hooking up with Darcie at the party, which he denies ever happened in order to protect his reputation.

All does not go well, one of the fraternity members, an elderly man known only as "Blue", has a heart attack and collapses during his birthday celebration after seeing two ladies flashing their breasts. At Blue's funeral, Frank's wife declares that she wants a divorce, thereby forcing a heartbroken Frank to live with Mitch at the fraternity house. Mitch invites Nicole and her daughter to a birthday party for Bernard's son. However, she shows up with a date, Mark (Craig Kilborn). Mitch later accidentally catches Mark making out with one of the birthday hostesses in the bathroom but does not tell Nicole. Mark lies to Nicole by saying that he caught Mitch doing the deed. This, along with Mitch's secretiveness regarding the fraternity, strains his relationship with Nicole, especially after asking her out for coffee and having the chef refuse his money and puts his meal on the house in order to show his support for the fraternity. Nicole becomes even more suspicious when the cook calls him "The Godfather" and to make things even more worse for Mitch, Darcie and her friend walk by and say hello to him, making Nicole think that Mark was right and that Mitch is a pervert after they reveal they have to go to a prom committee meeting for their high school, leaving Nicole to walk away disgusted. The main obstacle is still Dean Pritchard, and when he claims the group violated an assortment of university policies, the fraternity house is boarded up. He also claims that the students who participated in the non-sanctioned fraternity are subject to expulsion. Nonetheless, Mitch finds out that the group has the right to bypass this legality by completing a series of activities that range from academics and athletics to community service, debate, and school spirit. The men are able to complete all of the activities successfully but since the deceased member of the fraternity (Blue) was still on their roster, the group’s averages were brought down from 84% to 58%. Consequently, Dean Pritchard tells them the university’s decision stands.

The Student Council President, Megan Huang, was earlier bribed by the Dean to revoke the fraternity's charter. Frank chases the Dean and after a violent altercation, is able to obtain a tape that Megan secretly recorded and it reveals the Dean bribing her with admission to Columbia Law School (a promise the Dean happily broke when she confronted him after the school rejected her) since she is head of the student board that approved of the fraternity's campus status. On the next day the front of a newspaper claims that the Dean was fired after a bribery scandal. The fraternity’s charter is reinstated and the fraternity moves out of their old house and into Dean Pritchard’s (much bigger) house. Nicole visits Mitch at the old fraternity house to mend their relationship after she discovered Mark cheating, and it is implied that they get together. Despite Bernard and Mitch withdrawing from the fraternity, Frank maintains his ties and persists with his leadership in the organization.

Over the closing credits, Mark accidentally drives his car off of a bridge and, by coincidence, onto ex-Dean Pritchard who was fishing below, prompting the car to explode and killing them both. As the smoke from the wreckage rises into the air, Blue is in heaven playing a piano and singing "Dust in the Wind". Next, Frank is shown at the college radio station 88.6 playing a song and dedicating it to the "Godfather" (Mitch) by thanking him for saving his life. Later at the supermarket, Frank is approached by Heidi, inviting him to join her and some other friends the next night. Frank becomes euphoric and punches several boxes of supermarket cereal before kicking a random stranger's cart. Bernard now coaches his son's soccer team.



The film is set in La Crescenta, California. Filming locations included Palisades High School, UCLA, USC and Harvard University.[2] The film is considered a forerunner to the Frat Pack since three of its stars are core members of that group.

The screenplay was written as a comedic answer to Fight Club,[3] and there are numerous parallels in the script.


Critical reception[edit]

The film received mixed to positive reviews. The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported that 60% of critics gave the film a positive review based on a sample of 160 reviews, with an average score of 5.6/10; the consensus stated "While not consistently funny, the movie does have its moments."[4] At the website Metacritic, which utilizes a normalized rating system, the film earned a rating of 54/100 based on 32 reviews by mainstream critics.[5]

Box office[edit]

The film grossed $17,453,216 in 2,689 theaters in its first opening weekend at the U.S. Box office, opening at #2 behind Daredevil which was on its second week at the top spot. Old School has had gross receipts of $75,585,093 in the U.S. and Canada and $11,470,256 in international markets for a total of $87,055,349 worldwide.[6]



At the Mitch-a-palooza party, Snoop Dogg and Kokane perform "Paper'd Up", sampling Eric B & Rakim's track "Paid in Full".[7][8] The soundtrack also included "Dust in the Wind" by Kansas, "Hungry Like the Wolf", "Farmer in the Dell", "Gonna Make You Sweat", "Louie Louie", "Chariots of Fire", "Good Lovin' Gone Bad", "Master of Puppets" by Metallica, "Playground in My Mind" by Clint Holmes and "The Sound of Silence" by Simon & Garfunkel. The main song in this movie is "Here I Go Again" by Whitesnake, which is played when Will Ferrell's character is fixing his car and in the closing credits. Also, The Dan Band sings one of the famous songs of Bonnie Tyler, "Total Eclipse of the Heart" (with some interesting improvisational departures as to the cover's lyrics), and Styx's "Lady". During the introductory sequence Ryan Adams' "To Be Young (Is to Be Sad, Is to Be High)", co-written with David Rawlings, can be heard. Most memorably during the metal detector scene.


In 2006, a sequel to Old School was written by Scot Armstrong but was turned down by original stars, Will Ferrell and Vince Vaughn. The story concerned the aging fraternity going to Spring Break. While promoting Semi-Pro in 2008, Ferrell had this to say about the defunct project: “I read [the script]. Some super funny set pieces, but I don’t know. I think Vince [Vaughn] had the same reaction. We’re just kind of doing the same thing again. It was like us going to Spring Break, but we’ve got to find this guy who’s the head of a fraternity. Once again, funny things but it’s just us once again back in a fraternity setting. It just felt like it was repeating. But watch, I’m over-thinking it.”[9]


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