Think Citizen Kane is the most imitated film of all time? Well think again - - the number of ambitious, flashback-heavy biopics may be high, but the figures for wild college romps that follow the Animal House blueprint go through the roof.
Everything from Police Academy to American Pie rips something off from the National Lampoon boys, but the biggest surprise is just how little the original's frayed. John Landis' tale of the frat boys of Delta house and their ongoing scraps with the college dean, the uptight preppies of Omega house and the general constraints of sobriety still feels raw, edgy and dangerous.
It's also worryingly funny. Much of the credit for that goes to John Belushi as leering, capering, "biggest animal in the house" Bluto. Just watch him raise an eyebrow to the lens after peeking into the girls' dorm - - those stories of Belushi's comic genius aren't the usual post-mortem claps on the back afforded to any died-too-young star. But nor is this a one-man show. The rest of Landis' ensemble of young wannabes - - including Karen Allen, Tom Hulce and Kevin Bacon - - all pump out the yuks too, from food fights to toga parties. Growing old disgracefully, Animal House is every bit as good as you remember.