As strange as it may sound, Old School might just be one of the most important studio movies of the 2000s. The irreverent, raucous R-rated romp that finds a jilted attorney inadvertently launching a fraternity with two of his close buddies set the critical, commercial and conceptual template for the rest of the decade’s Hollywood comedy.
Old School earned $87 million at the box office and drew solid-if-unspectacular reviews from critics, but it developed a huge fanbase before enjoying a long second life on home video. To put things into perspective, the film’s Rotten Tomatoes score of 60% is comfortably dwarfed by an 86% audience rating, and that’s with over 250,000 votes being cast.
Without Old School, you could make the argument that the signature brand of man-child histrionics which went on to largely influence director and co-writer Todd Phillips and producer Scot Armstrong, along with stars Will Ferrell and Vince Vaughn, may have taken longer to shape the direction of the genre as a whole.
Once Judd Apatow and his regular troupe of collaborators got some skin in the game, the majority of studio-backed comedy vehicles largely followed the same template, a lot of which can be traced directly back to the misadventures of Luke Wilson’ Mitch, Ferrell’s Frank and Vaughn’s Bernard.
Eighteen years later and Old School is still capable of drawing in a crowd, with the cult favorite currently experiencing a new lease of life on Hulu, where it managed to reach as high as fifth place on the streaming service’s most-watched list, as per FlixPatrol.