Rush Week is upon us. Did you hear me? Rush Week.
While some of you are responding with, "What the hell is Rush Week?" others are either cringing in fear or donning facial expressions of apathy and disinterest without even trying. No matter your response to fraternities (school-sanctioned or otherwise), you dig on the fine films that can, or once did, help with procrastination of mid-term studies and roommate irritation.
Even though I was not in a fraternity in college, I did major in film and have watched a lot of movies about fraternities ... so, I'm pretty much an expert.
Turn your hats backwards, bros, and assume the position, because here's the top frat-themed flicks to get you ready to rush!
National Lampoon's Animal House (1978) Any list about college movies in general begins and ends with Animal House! Just peak your head in any dorm room on any campus and you'll likely catch a glimpse of Belushi in his iconic COLLEGE sweatshirt (also a university staple) downing a bottle of Jack as the star spangled flag waves behind him. It doesn't get any more American than that and it doesn't get anymore collegiate or fraternal than Animal House.
Fun Frat Fact: Animal House would lead you to believe that toga parties were all the ragers with fraternities back in the day but, in actuality, they were pretty much unheard of before the film's release. When Animal House hit theaters in 1978, it kicked-off the now-customary frat party theme.
Revenge of the Nerds (1984) Perfectly billed as a double feature with Animal House, Nerds is another collegiate classic. What happens when you're not cool enough for school to join a fraternity? You start your own! And then proceed to belittle those douchers by showing 'em your smart stuff in the Geek Games...er...Greek Games with a electronic musical performance that seems like something from a Michel Gondry-directed Daft Punk video.
Old School (2003) The film that made all of us want to go back to college and join a fraternity, no matter if we were 27 or 97 and had never been in one in the first place. Also the film that simultaneously redefined posterior male nudity (thanks, Will Ferrell) and Kansas' "Dust in the Wind" (thanks again, Will Ferrell).
Fun Frat Fact: It was unforeseen at the time but it's important to note that this film marked the beginning of what would soon become known as Will Ferrell's ascendance to supremacy as a leading man in both the comedic film world and as a national hero for fraternity members on college campuses across America. Frank Ricard became the new John Blutarsky as "You're my boy, Blue!" jettisoned its way to being the mantra for bros everywhere.
PCU (1994) If you've never seen this college classic, then you've obviously never watched Comedy Central on a Saturday afternoon, as PCU is in regular rotation as a staple in the network's go-to daytime programming. It's like the A Christmas Story of frat flicks. It's also Jeremy Piven's claim to fame pre-Entourage, not to mention the antithesis to his role in the aforementioned Old School. And as you may remember, PCU co-starred a dreaded Jon Favreau, who made his triumphant return to university-based films co-starring in 1993's Rudy the year prior.
Fun Frat Fact: I could be wrong, but PCU could quite possibly be the first film to acknowledge on celluloid the age-old rule of not wearing the t-shirt of the band you're going to see. Jeremy Piven's Droz: "What's this? You're wearing the shirt of the band you're going to see? Don't be that guy." Words that many of us lived by in our college years and still do to this day.
National Lampoon's Van Wilder (2002) The second National Lampoon's movie to make the list, which is fitting considering that the American humor magazine was a spin-off of the Harvard Lampoon. Their name doesn't carry quite the clout these days as it did with college-themed comedies of yesteryear. Now they release mostly straight-to-video fodder which no longer carry the classic National Lampoon's prefix, like most recently with 2011's Dirty Movie starring...Cyndi Lauper? But just 9-years-ago (has it really been that long?), Van Wilder made a leading man out of a little known hunk of Canadian bacon named Ryan Reynolds. Reynolds made the otherwise forgettable co-ed comedy memorable for what we know now as his signature comedic stylings.
Fun Frat Fact: Van Wilder also featured a little cameo by then-unknown Breaking Bad-ass Aaron Paul as "Wasted Guy." You may recall his famous albeit single line in response to "Where can I find Van Wilder?"..."In the Guinness Book of World-fucking-Records, man... under 'Raddest Fucking Dude Alive'!"
Stomp the Yard (2007) This one did not make the list out of an attempt at irony. Seriously. Don't laugh. Out of the fairly recent subgenre of dance movies that challenge audiences to step up to something or serve something or stomp on something, Stomp the Yard is one that rises to the occasion and stomps the competition. If only every fight in college could be solved with a dance off.
Fun Frat Fact: Star Columbus Short was actually in both Stomp the Yard and You Got Served, his debut film.
The Social Network (2010) Final Clubs. Fraternities. Same thing. At least that was the case on the Harvard campus, where billionaire Mark Zuckerberg created his would-be online empire out of the simple desire of wanting to belong. He couldn't make it into a final club so he recreated the same idea behind the club's socializing and interactions through something called The Facebook, or at least that's what it was known as when I signed up in 2005ish. Drop the "the," stop requiring people to have a college email to join, make a gazillion dollars. A simple formula by the boy wonder that David Fincher perfectly explored in this award-winning 2010 film that still blows me away every time I watch it. Not to mention that it's score by Trent Reznor still holds a spot in my regular rotation. Who ever knew that a film about kids in college and a social networking website could be so unforgettable and, dare I say, Shakespearean?
Fun Frat Fact: According to IMDb, "At the time of release, there were about 750 million active users on Facebook. If everyone who had a Facebook account at the time went to go see the movie during its theatrical release, it would have grossed somewhere around US $6 billion."
Brotherhood (2010) It's not all fun and games in the frat house. Writer/director Will Canon's festival favorite (the film won the Audience Award at SXSW 2010) from last year shows us what can happen when a pledge prank can go horribly wrong. Hazing has never been so horrific in one of the most tension-filled films I've ever seen. If you missed it, no worries! You're in luck; Brotherhood is now on Netflix Instant.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the Observer's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Dallas's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Fun Frat Fact: Being a DFW native, Canon shot the film right here in our backyard at an abandoned Arlington fraternity house.
Animal House (1978) Hey, we already said it: Any list about college movies in general begins and ends with Animal House.
Follow him: @JamesWallace and IHC.net: @IHeartCinemaNet on Twitter.