US DVD Release Date: December 16, 2008
Movie: 2.5 out of 5
Mitch Martin (Luke Wilson) returns home early from a business trip, only to find his girlfriend in a rather compromising situation. Thus begins Old School, a comedy that really, really wants to be a modern-day “Animal House.” Writer/Director Todd Phillips (Road Trip) gives an original spin to this often clichéd opening sequence, but the film loses steam shortly thereafter. Vince Vaughn plays Mitch’s friend Beanie, owner of a small chain of electronics stores and married with kids, and Will Ferrell (in what could be considered his breakout role) plays Frank “The Tank,” a newlywed. The three begin a fraternity after Mitch moves into a house on a nearby college campus, much to the dismay of the dean, played with nerdy perfection by Jeremy Piven (a reversal of sorts to his character in the much funnier PCU). There is also a subplot involving the attraction between former schoolmates Mitch and Nicole (Ellen Pompeo from Grey’s Anatomy), which seems to drop in from time to time to remind us it’s there. I’m not saying Old School wasn’t funny, but I expected much more, considering the talent involved.
Video: 3.0 out of 5
Old School comes to Blu-Ray in a 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. This is a nice, clean transfer with literally no noise or artifacts, with good color reproduction, deep blacks, and a film-like image. Nothing overly spectacular. I did notice some weave during the opening credits.
Audio: 2 out of 5
Paramount has provided a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack for Old School. My equipment cannot output this hi-res audio, but the core Dolby Digital soundtrack has been encoded at 640 kbps. As with most comedies, the soundtrack is very front-heavy, with very little use of the LFE and surrounds. The exceptions would be the wedding reception scenes and the Snoop Dog concert in Mitch’s backyard.
Special Features: 3 out of 5
The good news for owners of the previous DVD is that it appears that most of the special features have been ported over to this Blu-Ray release, but in standard definition.
The Feature Commentary with Todd Phillips, Luke Wilson, Will Ferrell, and Vince Vaughn reveals very little about the making of the film. The four guys sound like they are just hanging out together and chat for the 90 minutes running time.
From The Cutting Room Floor features eight deleted or extended scenes, none of which add or detract from the finished film. In anamorphic widescreen and standard definition.
Old School Orientation is your typical EPK featurette with behind-the-scenes footage, film clips, and interviews. In anamorphic widescreen and standard definition.
Inside The Actors Studio Spoof features Will Ferrell in a double role, playing host James Lipton as well as himself, along with Wilson, Vaughn, and Phillips as the other guests in this spoof of the popular Bravo series. In standard definition.
Outtakes And Bloopers is a 5 minute gag reel, in non-anamorphic, letterboxed, standard definition.
Also included is the Theatrical Trailer in high-definition, and three television spots in standard definition.
Overall: 2.5 out of 5 (not an average)
Paramount has provided a nice upgrade of one of their more popular Dreamworks titles, with a decent video and audio transfer, and porting over most of the special features from the DVD release.
This DVD was reviewed on the following home theater gear:
Toshiba 56HM66 DLP HDTV
Sony Playstation 3 (outputting to 1080i)
Yamaha HTR-5940 Home Theater Receiver (in 5.1 configuration)
Yamaha NS-AP2600 Home Cinema Speaker Package
Yamaha YST-SW010 subwoofer